How Much Can I Sue for a Dog Bite?
How much you can sue for a dog bite depends mainly on the injuries and damages you have suffered. For example, if your injuries were severe or resulted in personal scarring, you will likely be entitled to a larger sum. However, even if your dog bit was relatively minor with no long-lasting impact, you may still be entitled to compensation for any medical expenses as well as for the pain and suffering you endured.
While there is no set amount, data from the Insurance Information Institute (III) found that the average award for 937 dog bite cases filed in Texas in 2018 was $40,853. Still, this amount can vary greatly from case to case.
Speaking with a knowledgeable injury will help you understand what you can expect to receive based on the circumstances of your dog bite lawsuit. They will consider your injuries, expenses, and damages as well as liability and any laws that may affect your claim.
With that information in hand, your attorney will build your case to secure the financial compensation you are entitled to.
What Are Some Common Dog Bite Injuries?
As mentioned, how much you can sue for in a dog bite lawsuit will depend on the injuries you have suffered. Some of the common dog bite injuries our past clients have filed for include:
- Lacerations and soft tissue damage
- Nerve damage
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and concussions)
The severity of each of these injuries can increase the value of your case. For example, a very violent dog attack can result in extensive soft tissue damage and serious infections. In extreme cases, a dog attack may result in dismemberment or amputation. Understandably, these more extreme cases would require greater compensation to be paid to the victim. The court may also award punitive damages in such a case.
Another consideration is where the dog bite took place. A victim who has suffered scarring or disfigurement to their face will typically receive more compensation than scarring to an extremity like an arm or leg.
Can I Only Sue for Physical Injuries?
If you’ve been the victim of a dog attack, then you know that not all injuries or physical. Texas courts recognize this truth as well. As such, you can sue for emotional and psychological injuries you have suffered due to a dog bite.
Some non-physical injuries dog bite victims often sue for include:
- Chronic pain
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
When I Sue for a Dog Bite, How Do I List My Damages?
Texas courts are very specific in how personal injury damages are broken down. Dog bite victims often suffer a variety of damages, including physical, emotional, mental, and financial damages. Knowing how to accurately identify and demonstrate all of these damages can greatly affect the amount you are able to sue for.
When filing your dog bite lawsuit, you may seek damages like:
- Past medical bills
- Cost of future medical treatment
- Cost of continued physical therapy
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental distress
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of quality of life
Another type of damage that may apply to your case is punitive damages. The above damages are compensatory damages, meaning they are meant to compensate the plaintiff. Punitive damages, on the other hand, seek to punish the defendant.
For punitive damages, the court will have to conclude that the defendant acted with gross negligence. This means they acted with extreme indifference or with a conscious disregard for your safety. Gross negligence could apply if:
- The dog attack was intentional
- The dog owner was aware of previous bites and attacks by the dog
- The owner purposely trained the dog to be vicious (i.e. trained for dogfighting)
What If I Was Partly At Fault for the Dog Bite?
In Texas, personal injury victims can sue for damages they have suffered even if they were partly responsible for their accident or injuries. So, even if you think you were partly at fault for your dog bite, you can still seek compensation in Texas.
Texas uses a modified comparative negligence standard for dog bit cases. This is also often referred to as “comparative fault” or “shared fault.” In short, the amount of damages a party is responsible for is proportionate to the percentage of fault they are determined to carry for a dog bite.
So, for example, if you are found to be 30% responsible for your dog bite injuries and the dog owner is found to be 70% responsible, you can still recover 70% of the damages you have suffered from the dog owner. If your damages totaled $100,000, the dog owner would pay you $70,000.
One thing to remember is that you must be less than 51% for your dog bite to recover damages. If you are found to hold the majority of the liability for the dog bite, you cannot recover anything.
What Other Laws Can Impact My Dog Bite Lawsuit?
Another element that can affect your dog bite lawsuit is the laws your state has in place for dog bites. Typically, dog bite laws fall into two different types:
- Strict liability
- The “one bite rule”
Most states follow strict liability rules for dog bites. Strict liability is pretty straightforward in that the owner is held liable for any injuries caused by their pet. This is true even if the dog owner did nothing wrong. An exception to strict liability would be if a person was trespassing. At that point, the trespasser would have to prove the owner was negligent.
Texas, however, follows the “one bite rule”. The “one bite rule” looks at a dog’s history to determine if the owner is liable for damages.
The “one bite” law presumes that if a dog has never bitten anyone or displayed aggressive behavior, then it is reasonable that the owner would not expect their dog to bite a person. After the first instance of a bite, however, the owner is implied to be on notice of the dog’s tendency to bite. So, in Texas, an owner of a dog who has bitten in the past would be more likely to be deemed negligent for future bites.
With this in mind, a dog bite victim in Texas needs to show:
- The dog’s owner knew that the dog had acted aggressively or had bitten someone in the past, and/or
- The dog’s owner failed to take reasonable action to control their dog or prevent a bite, and as a result, the plaintiff was bitten
What is the Statute of Limitation for Dog Bite Lawsuits in Texas?
In Texas, the statute of limitation for a dog bite claim is two years. This means a person has two years to seek compensation from the dog owner in the form of a lawsuit. After that time expires, the victim is unable to pursue a claim. Any lawsuit filed would be dismissed as time-barred.
While two years may seem like a lot of time, it can pass by quickly.
In addition to the statute of limitations on dog bites, you will want to consider the evidence. Evidence can deteriorate over time. Witnesses’ memories and even your own recollection of the events surrounding your dog bite can become hazy. Your case will become less compelling, and you can greatly hamper your recovery by waiting too long to seek compensation.
Calling an attorney immediately after your dog bite means you are able to preserve physical evidence of the dog bite as well as get written and recorded statements from witnesses while the event is fresh in their minds.
Bitten by a Dog in Texas? Call Thomas J. Henry Law
If you have been bitten by a dog, call Thomas J. Henry Law immediately. We can review the facts of your case and help you determine how much you can sue for a dog bite. We can also help you build your case in a way that accurately demonstrates ALL of the damages you have suffered. This means you are more likely to recover maximum compensation for your dog bite injuries and expenses.
Do not wait. Call now to speak with an experienced dog bite attorney. We are available 24/7, nights and weekends to complete your FREE Case Review. If you chose to hire us for your dog bite lawsuit, you will pay us nothing unless and until we win your case.