Use the table of contents to easily navigate this page.
About Dog Bite Cases
Did a dog bite you or your child in Dallas? If so, you are certainly experiencing intense physical pain. Your dog bite injuries may take weeks or months to heal. They may even leave you with permanent scars or disfigurement.
Then there’s the psychological trauma. You constantly worry about loose dogs in your neighborhood as you walk about, when you should feel safe and relaxed. When you see a dog you know that looks friendly, you still feel an awkward tension that maybe this dog will lunge and bite you.
And if your child was the victim, imagine all the peace and security they lose for the coming years… at an age when they should be enjoying a carefree life. Imagine the mental anguish that is associated with permanent disfigurement resulting from a vicious dog attack.
Then you have the financial fallout. Medical bills pile up and you don’t know how to pay them while still meeting your other obligations. And you have no clue what the final costs will even be.
The dog owner’s insurance company delays or denies payment, leaving you to foot the bills.
What do you do when you feel hopeless? Because, after all, this dog bite wasn’t your fault.
Dog bites happen. And sometimes even when the owner has done a responsible job of caring for their dog.
But most often, dog bites occur because owners haven’t done their part in properly training, supervising, or restraining the dog.
Usually, they know their dog has previously displayed aggressive or dangerous behavior. But, they failed to take the proper steps to keep others safe from their dog.
To hold the owners legally liable for the dog bite injuries, our Dallas lawyers will attempt to demonstrate:
- The dog made an unprovoked attack that caused bodily injury, and that attack happened outside the dog’s enclosure; or
- Or, that the dog has already committed an attack outside its enclosure in the past, and that the owner should reasonably believe this could happen again; or
- The owner defined a standard of care relating to the canine and deviated from same.
Dog owners should maintain some form of liability insurance, just in case their dog attacks and injures someone. Typically, that falls under their homeowner’s insurance. Usually, a simple homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy carries at least $100,000 – $300,000 in coverage.
And that’s why you need the help of the best Dallas dog bite lawyers you can find.
Believe it or not, you can afford the best dog bite attorneys in Dallas. That’s because injury lawyers charge a contingent fee based on the final settlement value of your case. You don’t pay anything up front. And you only pay a fee if and when your Dallas dog bite case wins.
Here are some of the basics covering how Dallas dog bite claims work.
If a dog bites me in Dallas, is the owner responsible?
That really depends. Many Texans believe they’re automatically entitled to compensation by the dog’s owner or their insurance company.
That’s not the case.
Texas’ dog bite law requires you show the dog acted aggressively in the past and that the dog’s owner acted negligently in some way.
Make sure you take pictures of any wounds you receive and gather witness information as soon as you can.
One exception is if the dog’s breed is inherently vicious. For example, if a pit bull bites you, that may be enough to win your claim.
How much money can I get for my dog bite injuries?
You may not be entitled to big money, or even any money at all.
It depends on the extent of your injuries and how much they affect your life. And it can also depend on the responsibility you had, if any, in the situation.
For example, say you teased the dog and provoked it into the attack.
In that case, Texas’ comparative negligence law may apply, which means you may bear partial responsibility for your injuries and that the compensation you can receive may be reduced.
How do owners defend themselves in dog bite cases?
Typically, their attorneys or insurance company aim to show the dog’s owner had no knowledge their dog would attack or that you trespassed.
Again, just because a dog bites you, that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically win compensation.
That’s why it’s important to have a top Dallas personal injury lawyer take on your claim.
Are dog bite cases easy to win?
Not necessarily. As you’ve seen, you have the burden of proof. By no means should you expect a walk-in-the-park if someone else’s dog bites you.
And, things can happen that make the case more difficult. For example, a dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy may exclude coverage for their dog, and they may not be aware of that.
Since any costs would then come out of their pocket, they’d fight your claim a lot harder.
Should I really file a claim if it was my friend or family member’s dog that bit me?
Understand that, in the overwhelming majority of dog bite cases, you’re filing a claim against your friend’s homeowner’s insurance (and not against them personally).
That’s what they have homeowner’s insurance for.
If your friend really is your friend, they’ll care about you and want to make sure you get your injuries covered. If their dog was responsible for your injuries, but they don’t want to cover them with their homeowner’s insurance, they probably were never really your friend.
Hopefully, you never find yourself a victim of a dog attack. But then again, no one ever plans on accidents or injuries happening.
For now, you at least understand some of the basic myths and misconceptions about Texas’ dog bite law and can protect yourself accordingly.
Contact our Dallas dog bite lawyers today for a free consultation at (214) 747-5240.
What makes a dog owner liable for your injuries in Dallas?
Texas follows a somewhat odd “one free bite” rule regarding dog bite liability. However, that doesn’t give dog owners a free pass in every case.
A dog bites you.
Is the owner financially responsible?
Look, I’d love to give you “yes” and “no” answers. But the fact is that the law doesn’t make it that simple. And when you think about it, that’s fair. Because, you want to deliver a just and fair result based on the particular situation.
So take a look at some of the ins and outs of Texas dog bite law:
Texas Is a “One Free Bite” State
Typically, an owner gets legal protection on their dog’s first bite (unless liability can be based on other grounds). In other words, if it is the dog’s first bite, and the dog had shown no signs of aggressive behavior before, there’s a possibility the owner won’t be financially liable for your injuries.
However, exceptions to this rule exist:
- Negligence (not taking reasonable care to control the dog)
- Violation of leash laws or other municipal laws
- Outrageous or reckless behavior
- Establishing a standard of care relating to the dog and deviating from that standard
- Inherently dangerous breeds of dog
Defenses Against Liability in Dog Bite Cases
The two most common defenses to liability are that the owner had no knowledge their dog had previously bitten someone and/or demonstrated aggressive tendencies in the past or, possibly, that you were a trespasser on the premises.
You, the plaintiff, have the burden of proof. You have to show it is “more likely than not” that your version of events holds true.
In general though, if you were legally allowed to be where you physically were bitten by a dog, the owner will be held liable.
A Closer Look at Negligence in Dog Bite Cases
If an owner lets their dog off the leash in their neighborhood, and fails to supervise that dog, they’re more than likely going to be found negligent.
That’s kind of an extreme example. Most dog owners don’t do that.
However, say they have a larger dog, and that it jumps and knocks your 80-year-old grandmother down, causing her to break her hip. Well, that’s negligence too. The owner had a responsibility to keep the dog on a leash, or to keep it at a safe distance.
Compare all this to “strict liability” states, who say that if your dog causes damage or harm at any time, then you are responsible.
That’s not the case in Texas. (Unless the dog is an inherently dangerous breed) But, it gives you perspective.
If you’re not sure about who’s responsible for a dog bite you’ve experienced, you can always get a free consultation with an injury lawyer who can help you understand your situation.
Contact our Dallas dog bite attorneys for a free case evaluation at (214) 747-5240.
What Factors Show an Owner Knows Their Dog is Vicious?
To win a Dallas dog attack lawsuit, you must show the owner knew or should have known their dog was dangerous. What facts can show that?
One of the top legal standards for proving liability for a dog bite in Texas includes showing the owner knew, or should have known, they own a vicious dog, but failed to take ordinary care to protect others.
Read another way, a dog can attack and maul you, but if the owner had no reason to expect that, they may not be legally liable for your injuries.
How do you show an owner should have known they have a vicious dog?
Here’s a list of things which may show just that:
The Owner Frequently Confines or Restrains Their Dog
Any type of frequent confinement may show the dog is known to be dangerous. This can include keeping the dog outside, on a chain, or in a kennel.
It can also include simply posting signs to beware of the dog.
The Dog Breed
Certain breeds, as you’ve likely heard, are much more likely to bite and attack because that’s the nature of their breed.
Such breeds can include:
- Pit bulls
- German Shepherds
- Doberman Pinschers
Any Obvious Signs of Aggressive Behavior
Formal complaints about a dog to the police, the owner warning people about the dog, and the dog acting aggressively towards other dogs can be enough to prove liability.
Note that the dog doesn’t necessarily need to have a formal complaint against it. This can simply be observed aggressive behavior by neighbors.
The Dog’s Size
Some dogs are large enough to cause injury simply based on their size. They don’t necessarily have to be aggressive.
Great Danes, for example, average around 150 – 170 pounds. While they have friendly personalities, their sheer size means they can knock you flat on your back if they get silly and a little out-of-control.
But None of These Factors Prove Liability By Themselves
Understand that any of these facts by themselves act only as evidence. They don’t necessarily prove liability.
For example, a “Beware of Dog” sign could also simply be used to scare away burglars. So just having that sign doesn’t necessarily indicate the dog’s owner knows the dog is dangerous.
To prove liability, you’ll likely need to show the dog had a clear pattern of aggressive behavior, and that any reasonable person should have known they needed to take action to protect others from their dog.
Otherwise, the owner can still say they weren’t aware they had a vicious dog. And then you can’t hold them liable for injuries their dog causes.
For now, you understand what it means a dog’s owner “knew or should have known” their dog to be dangerous.
And you can take the proper action to protect yourself and others.
Contact our Dallas lawyers now at (214) 747-5240. for a free consultation about your potential dog bite case.
Data Shows Texas Leads the Nation in Fatal Dog Attacks
Which dogs cause the attacks? What can you do?
Unfortunately, our fine state leads the nation in some not-so-good ways.
We’re actually one of the more dangerous states, and frequently the most dangerous state (depending on the year), when it comes to serious dog bite injuries and fatalities.
DogsBite.org gathers and reports data on dog bites and the serious injuries and fatalities that result from them.
We led the nation in 2015, with a total of 5 deaths, and we also led the nation in total deaths from 2005 – 2013, with 34.
And we’re among the leaders again this year.
In recent years, states like California, Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina have taken the lead. But Texas always competes for the leading position.
So far in 2019, we have 4 confirmed dog attack deaths, and one under investigation. This year also includes the tragic story or Johana Villafane, who was actually killed by her own two pit bulls.
Shockingly, she was mauled to death while visiting her pit bulls when they were placed in quarantine in O’Connor Animal Hospital. They were placed under quarantine because they had bitten a man 8 days prior.
The animal hospital asked her to walk the dogs because they were so aggressive their own staff couldn’t walk them. A sad story!
What Are The Most Dangerous Dog Breeds?
Are most dogs dangerous? No. Are some? Yes. Most can be reigned in with training, and proper care, time, and attention from the owner.
Every dog wants to be a “good” dog. Unfortunately, some think that means biting and attacking innocent people because their owners haven’t taught them it’s not okay.
Just because you see a dog without an owner, or one that’s barking aggressively, doesn’t mean you will get attacked.
Some dog breeds are more dangerous than others. Here’s some of the most dangerous that you should watch out for. And – if you can – meet the dog with the owner so the dog understands you’re not a threat:
This one should come as no surprise. You hear about vicious pit bull attacks on the news all the time.
Interestingly, the phrase “pit bull” in and of itself does not refer to a specific dog breed. Rather, it’s a general term that refers to a number of breeds which originate from the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the American Bulldog.
They were originally bred to bait bulls and bears. And they’ve been used for years in dog fighting circles throughout the world.
Yes, you hear about bites from these dogs on the news all the time too. And the news in this case does not distort reality: Rottweilers are truly dangerous dogs.
Their breed has a fascinating history though. The Roman army bred these dogs to drive herds of cattle that fed their army as it marched throughout Europe. These dogs then bred with local dogs, and butchers used the resulting dogs to drive cattle to market.
Rottweilers have a naturally vicious temper. They are not recommended as suitable in any way for family life. And they require a calm, assertive, and attentive owner to help them keep their emotions in check.
These dogs were originally bred to do exactly as their name suggests: help shepherds protect and watch over their flocks.
However, over time, German Shepherds have also been used as guard dogs because of their loyal, but courageous and even vicious nature.
If properly trained and raised, German Shepherds can be wonderfully nice dogs. But the story completely changes if the owner is irresponsible.
Louis Dobermann, a German tax collector who did his work door-to-door in the early 1800s, is credited as the original person to breed Doberman Pinschers. Looking at the nature of his work, you can see why. Interestingly, he also ran the local dog pound.
You don’t want to run into a Doberman Pinscher all on your own.
Nearly every dog breed can make a wonderful family pet when given the proper time and attention. However, the breeds on this list, simply by nature of the dogs’ genetics, make them susceptible to unwarranted attack.
Texas law typically allows dogs “one free bite” but that does not apply to certain breeds of dog which are inherently dangerous such as a Pit Bull. The owner of a Pit Bull is expected to know from the get-go that the canine could be dangerous and pose a risk.
If you were bitten by a dog contact a good personal injury lawyer today.
Pit Bulls are the most dangerous dog breed by far.
When it comes to staying safe around dogs, it’s important to understand the nature of the breeds.
From 2005 – 2018, 471 Americans died from dog attacks. Pit bulls caused 66% of these. Pit bulls and rottweilers together caused 76% of these fatalities, per data from DogsBite.org.
Pit bulls have been bred for over 1,000 years, but especially in the past 200 – 400 for their compact, muscular bodies and strong jaws.
They were originally bred to perform the sport of “bull baiting” in England beginning around 1,000 years ago. The sport involved bulldogs latching onto a male bull cow’s nose and pinning it to the ground.
Depending on the cow’s breed, the bull can weigh anywhere from several hundred to 2,400 pounds. And bulls are violent animals.
…So you can imagine how nasty and tough a pit bull would have to be to pin one to the ground!
And they’d need a strong jaw to latch on and not let go, which is precisely what they were bred to do.
Because the public was so outraged by the violence of this sport, England banned it in – get this – 1835!
That’s 180 years before our much more pro-animal views of today.
What Should You Do If Attacked by a Dog?
While rare, vicious dog attacks happen. How can you prepare for one, or stop one if it’s happening to you? Learn exactly what to do.
Texas leads the nation in fatal dog attacks. While single dog bites happen commonly, full-out dog mauling doesn’t happen frequently.
So, what should you do if you do find yourself amid a dog attack?
Here’s how to handle that:
How do you know if a dog will attack?
You never truly know until they do. You know the obvious signs:
- Backing up and baring teeth
But not all dogs do that before they attack. Some will freeze their entire body for a brief second.
It can be quite easy to miss the more subtle signs.
What can you do if a dog shows aggressive behavior?
You do have a chance to prevent an attack if you encounter an aggressive dog.
Here’s what to do and not do:
- Don’t look a dog in the eye because that’s a challenge to them
- Stay completely still and don’t talk to the dog at all because that makes you less interesting
- Try to slowly move away and put a barrier between you and the dog
- Ask someone nearby for help in a calm voice (don’t shout, which could startle the dog into action)
- If you have fallen on the ground for some reason, curl into a ball and keep your hands around the back of your neck, and protect your throat
- Don’t spray the dog with pepper spray, as that actually increases the chances of an attack
What if a dog actually attacks and bites you?
Even though it’s hard, try to stay as calm as possible. The more you can make the situation not a big deal, the more likely it is to end with less harm to your body.
Here’s specific tactics to use:
- Try to cover the dog’s head with a jacket or shirt. Blocking the dog’s vision has a high chance of causing the dog to disengage.
- You can also use that jacket or shirt, or even a stick to place between you and the dog. The goal is to redirect the dog’s biting onto that object.
- Try not to scream because that only escalates the dog’s behavior.
- If the dog begins to maul you, and none of the actions above are options, curl up into a ball and clasp your hands behind your neck to protect your neck and throat.
- Resist the urge to hit or beat the dog with any nearby object. While this sounds like it would help, it only increases the dog’s adrenaline and desire to attack.
- Try to stay calm because that makes you less interesting to the dog, which could lead to them disengaging.
As you can see, preventing a dog attack, and even making it through one, requires a cool head in an intense situation.
Hopefully you never find yourself alone and confronted by an aggressive dog.
But now you know exactly what to do if it ever happens.
Why Choose Mullen & Mullen as Your Dallas Dog Bite Lawyers?
Our Dallas dog bite attorneys are among the top legal minds in Texas. We do everything in our power to make sure you get fair compensation for your injuries.
Attorney Shane Mullen was named a “Texas Super Lawyer” three consecutive years. This Thomson-Reuters publication uses a 12-point process to identify the top 2.5% of all lawyers. Their process eliminates the chance of using friends or political connections to gain recognition, so it’s a highly accurate measure of a lawyer’s legal skill. Shane is a lifetime member of both the Million & Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forums. So if you have a large insurance company staring you down and refusing to pay, you’ve got nothing to worry about with Shane in your corner.
Shane’s father, Attorney Regis L. Mullen, has practiced law for 53 years. He started out working for a major insurance company, but switched over to helping injury victims once he understood how they were routinely taken advantage of. He has inside knowledge on how insurance carriers work which he will put to good use for you.
Attorney Joseph Morrison used to run his own boutique litigation firm, where, as managing attorney, he filed and supervised hundreds of lawsuits. Joseph has been recognized by VerdictSearch for obtaining a Top 5 Texas Verdict in Premises Liability. He is also a member of both the Million & Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forums.
But That’s Not Where the Benefits of Choosing Our Dallas Dog Bite Attorneys Ends!
Besides being a highly skilled and experienced legal team, we offer a number of other benefits:
- Delayed medical billing until your Dallas dog bite case finishes. Our lawyers have relationships with medical providers that allow you to pay your medical bills from your final settlement amount. That way, you can focus your attention on recovering from your injuries – not a mountain of medical debt and bill collectors harassing you for payment.
- Personal representation of your Dallas dog bite case which can result in a larger settlement amount. High volume law firms often have so many injury cases that the attorney may not get involved until the very end of the process. Often times that will be too late to properly develop your dog bite case. At Mullen & Mullen, our Dallas lawyers oversee and develop dog bite cases at each and every step. This means your Dallas dog bite injury claim has a much greater chance of winning… and for money.
- Lower expenses (and more money in your pocket). We employ a private investigator. Most firms contract this service out, which costs more, and they pass the bill on to you. 90% of our personal injury claims settle out of court…which saves you a lot of time and money. And mention you found us through this website, and we’ll cut our fee to 29% of your Dallas dog bite cases’ final settlement value (down from the industry-standard of 33.3%). We can offer this reduced attorney fee because of the higher settlement values we routinely obtain on behalf of clients.
Get Your Free Dog Bite Attorney Consultation Today
When you meet with our lawyers, you won’t deal with narcissistic egomaniacs who do all the talking, and who hit you with a high pressure sales pitch. Our attorneys will listen to you and ask the right questions. You’ll learn everything you need to know so you can make the best decision for yourself. Find out how much you could win, and learn our strategy for winning your Dallas dog bite case.
Contact Mullen & Mullen Law Firm Today at (214) 747-5240 for a Free, No-Obligation Consultation.
Learn how we can help! We want to discuss the facts of your potential dog bite case.
There is never a fee for our legal services unless we obtain a recovery for you.
Related Reading Suggestions
Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years. Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.