Dallas Dog Bite Lawyer

Attorney Doug Goyen Attorney Doug Goyen is a Dallas dog bite lawyer that handles personal injury cases resulting from dog bites. The Law Office of Doug Goyen's personal injury attorney in Dallas provides experienced, aggressive, and powerful representation for our clients. 

Our firm represents people who have been harmed by another person’s animal. Dog owners are accountable for their pets. In cities, they are required to keep them from escaping their yards. People must take extra precautions with their dog if the dog has a history of aggression or biting other animals or people. If you have been bitten by another person’s dog, you will almost certainly need to hire a dog bite injury lawyer to pursue your claim. 

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DOG BITE INJURY CASES 

In some cases, dog attacks can be extremely dangerous. A scared or dominant dog can be ferocious and cause significant harm to a human. It is the responsibility of dog owners to keep their animals under control. If an owner’s dog attacks another person due to the owner’s negligence, the owner is liable for any injuries sustained as a result of the attack.

Every year, millions of people in the United States are bitten by dogs. One in every six people requires medical attention. If you have unpaid bills as a result of an animal attack, you should be aware of your legal rights.

ISSUES WITH INSURANCE IN DOG BITE CASES

One of the most difficult aspects of dog attack cases is determining who is to blame for the attack and then determining which insurance company (if any) is responsible for the liability claim. Often, the dog is free and the owner does not come forward to claim the animal. The owner will sometimes claim that someone must have opened his gate and let his dog(s) out. Sometimes the dog’s owner is renting his home and does not have “liability insurance” that would cover the claim. The owner of the house who rents to the dog’s owner frequently claims that they had no idea the dog was there or that the dog was dangerous. All of this complicates your efforts to pursue your claim against the dog’s owner for the injuries, harms, and losses you sustained as a result of the attack. You will need an experienced dog bite injury lawyer to identify the issues early in your case so that you can recover from your injuries.

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COMPENSATION AVAILABLE IN A DOG BITE CASE

When a person is attacked by a dog, the bites can result in serious injury. These wounds can be severe, causing tissue and muscle damage, torn skin, and nerve damage. Animal attacks can cause disfigurement if the trauma is severe enough. Scars and destroyed tissue may mean a life of concealment for the self-conscious individual.

Wrongful death. In some cases, a dog attack or bite can result in wrongful death. When specific injuries, such as those to vital areas, occur, they can be severe or fatal.

Disfigurement. Infections can be serious with dog bites. Dog bites frequently become infected and can result in permanent disfigurement. They can also cause severe emotional trauma, such as a lifelong fear of dogs.

Lost earning capacity. A dog’s owner’s negligence can result in serious injury. The owner could be held liable for damages, including compensation for medical bills, lost income, and other losses. The legal damages available in a dog bite lawsuit are intended to compensate you for your injuries and other losses. The costs of medical bills alone are often enough to take victims by surprise.  

Medical bills. Medical bills for treatment, medication, surgery, and therapy are frequently the majority of what is sought after a dog attack and bites. Many of these financial obligations are covered when seeking initial treatment, but some cover the additional care required after the initial damage has been repaired. 

Pain and suffering and Mental anguish. When dogs attack a person, it causes a great deal of pain. These occurrences may cause emotional or mental distress, which may require years of therapy to resolve. Pain and physical suffering may also persist after medical treatment has ended, necessitating medication. If the victim is a child, the trauma they experience may last the rest of their lives.

In addition to the above damages available for injuries caused by a dog attack injury, you may also be able to receive other compensation depending on your case. Contact our personal injury lawyer in Dallas at (972) 599 4100 to discuss your case and your options. The consultations are free. 

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TEXAS DOG BITE INJURY LAW

Texas laws regarding animal attacks, including dog bite cases, fall into the categories of 1) Negligent handling of animals, 2) Strict liability – prior attacks by an animal with a prior history of being dangerous or vicious, 3) Negligence per se – violation of an ordinance or law. Lawsuits, and claims involving animals injuring people, such as dog bite cases, fall into the following categories in Texas.

1) NEGLIGENT HANDLING OF ANIMALS. 

To recover on a negligent handling claim, a plaintiff must prove: (1) the defendant owned or possessed an animal; (2) the defendant owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent the animal from injuring others; (3) the defendant breached that duty; and (4) the defendant’s breach proximately caused plaintiffs injury. Thompson v. Curtis, 127 S.W.3d 446, 451 (Tex.App.—Dallas 2004, no pet.).

Unlike strict liability claims, to prevail in a negligence action the plaintiff does not have to prove that the animal was vicious or dangerous. Dunnings v. Castro, 881 S.W.2d 559, 562-63 (Tex.App.-Houston [1st Dist] 1994, writ dism’d). The Restatement (Second) of Torts states:

A person injured by a dog bite may sue the owner in strict liability or negligence. An owner of a vicious animal may be strictly liable for damages while an owner of a non-vicious dog may be liable for negligent handling. Bushnell v. Mott, 254 S.W.3d 451, 452 (Tex. 2008). The possessor or harborer of a dog is privileged to allow it to run at large and therefore is not required to exercise care to keep it under constant control, he is liable if he sees his dog or cat about to attack a human being . . . and does not exercise reasonable care to prevent it from doing so.

A dog owner may be liable for injuries caused by the dog even if the animal is not vicious, so long as the plaintiff can prove the owner’s negligent handling or keeping of the animal caused the injury. Dunnings, 881 S.W.2d at 562-63.

The Texas Supreme Court recognized a duty owed by the owner or possessor of a non-vicious animal to exercise reasonable care to prevent the animal from injuring others. Marshall, 511 S.W.2d at 258, citing Restatement (Second) of Torts § 518 (1938); Allen, 97 S.W.3d at 660. Whether a duty exists depends on some degree of proof that the risk of injury from a dog bite is foreseeable, or stated differently, whether the owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the danger presented by the dog. Dunnings, 881 S.W.2d at 563-64. Foreseeability is satisfied by showing a person of ordinary intelligence should have anticipated the danger to others by the actor’s negligent behavior. Searcy v. Broum, 607 S.W.2d 937, 942 (Tex.Civ.App. 1980).

To establish that the defendant owed a duty to exercise reasonable care, the owner or possessor of the animal must be aware of circumstances that could cause an otherwise gentle animal to attack other animals or people. Labaj v. VanHouten, 322 S.W.3d 416, 421 (Tex.App.—Amarillo, 2010, pet. denied). In City of Houston v. Jenkins, 363 S.W.3d 808, 816 (Tex.App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2012) the training and history of a police dog biting humans proved that the defendant was aware of the dog’s danger.

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2) STRICT LIABILITY – DANGEROUS DOMESTICATED ANIMALS. 

Injuries caused by dangerous domesticated animals. In circumstances when the dog is known to be violent, dangerous, or destructive, and the bite was caused by the dog’s known nature, Texas courts may use a strict liability rule.

To prove a case against someone for having a dangerous domesticated animal, a plaintiff must show that: 1) the defendant owned or possessed the animal; 2) the animal had dangerous propensities abnormal to its class; 3) the defendant knew or should have known the animal had dangerous propensities, and 4) the animal’s dangerous propensities caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Allen v. Albin, 97 S.W.3d 655, 660 (Tex.App.—Waco 2002, no pet.).

Under this doctrine, if any of these elements are not met, the sufferer will not be able to recover. Marshall v. Ranne, 511 SW 2d 255 (Tex: Supreme Court 1974).

If a dog has previously bitten someone, it may be labeled as a dangerous dog, regardless of whether the bite resulted in serious injury. In this case, strict responsibility means that if a dangerous dog causes an injury, the victim does not have to show that the dog’s owner failed to restrain the dog with reasonable care. 

To establish that an animal is dangerous, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the animal’s vicious or aggressive tendencies were not normal for that species of animal. Marshall v. Ranne, 511 S.W.2d 255, 258 (Tex.1974). This is determined by the facts. In one case, testimony that a dog was ferocious, occasionally knocked people down, and disliked children were sufficient to avoid summary judgment. A pit bull should be judged against other dogs, not just other pit bulls. Dunnings v. Castro, 881 S.W.2d 559, 561 (Tex.App.__Houston [1st Dist.] 1994, writ denied).

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3) NEGLIGENCE PER SE – IN DOG BITE CASES, CODES, AND ORDINANCES.  

In addition to the owner’s “negligence” in allowing his dog to run loose or allowing the dog to attack you, there are frequently city codes and ordinances that address dog attack cases. There are leash laws, laws requiring dog enclosures, and laws requiring dangerous dogs to be kept in a specific manner – or removed from city limits in some places. People don’t always follow the law, so you’ll need to look into the dog-related codes and ordinances in your municipality to see if one of these codes or ordinances was broken. Proof of an ordinance violation can sometimes overcome a defense used by an insurance company to avoid paying your case.

In Texas, whether or not the violator owns the dog, a breach of an animal control law might result in liability. Laws requiring dogs to be on a leash or forbidding them from running loose or trespassing are common in states, counties, and towns. Courts have mostly held that breaking such regulations can result in liability. The violation is considered negligence per se in Texas. The petitioner must establish that there was a breach of a statute or ordinance. Moughon v. Wolf, 576 S.W.2d 603, 603 (Tex. 1978).

The plaintiff must demonstrate that the violation caused their damage. Searcy v. Brown, 607 SW 2d 937 (Tex: Court of Civil Appeals, 1980).

MUNICIPAL CODES IN THE DFW AREA REGARDING LEASH LAWS 

The following are the local city codes and ordinances on leash laws in the Dallas and Fort Worth area. 

Defines an animal “at large” as: “At large” shall mean:
2. Off Premises of Owner – Any animal which is not physically and continually restrained by some person by means of a leash or chain of proper strength and length that precludes the animal from making any unsolicited contact with any person, their clothing, their property and/or their premises.
Section 4.11 Animal At Large
     A. A person commits an offense if he fails to keep an animal he owns from being at large.

Sec. 91.003. – Definitions.
At large. . . . an animal shall not be considered “at large” when held and controlled by a person by means of a leash or chain, of proper strength and length to control the action of the dog . . .
Public nuisance.  (A) Any animal which:
(4) Is at large.


Dallas City Code. SEC. 7-3.1. LOOSE ANIMALS.
(a) An owner commits an offense if the owner fails to restrain the animal, at all times:
     (4) by a tethering device, but only if the animal is in the owner’s immediate possession and accompanied by the animal’s owner, and, if the animal is a dog, the owner complies with the requirements in Section 7-4.7 of this chapter.

Denton, Texas – Municipal Code

Defines “at large” as: At large or running at large means an animal not kept within an enclosure or fenced area or restrained by a leash of sufficient strength and length to control the actions of said animal.

Sec. 6-8. – Restraining animals and tethering animals.
(b) It shall be unlawful for any person who is in control, custody, or caring for any animal to permit the animal to run at large in the city or to trespass upon the premises of any other person.
§ 6-2 PURPOSE AND SCOPE.
(a) It is the purpose of this chapter:
      (5) To protect the public health, safety and welfare of the city.

§ 6-13 RESTRAINT OF ANIMALS.
(a) It shall be unlawful for an owner of an animal to fail or refuse:
     (1) To keep an animal under restraint; and

Sec. 14-3 Definitions
Animal nuisance: Any animal which physically molests passersby or passing vehicles; attacks other animals or persons, trespasses on school grounds; roams at large; damages public or private property . . . 

At large:  . . . an animal that is not under the physical restraint of the owner or custodian or any other person authorized by the owner to care for the animal by leash, cord, chain, or rope.

Sec. 14-8 Animals at large
(a) Prohibition. It shall be unlawful for any owner, custodian, or harborer to allow any domestic dog or other animal possessed, kept, or harbored, to roam at large as defined in section 14-3 of this chapter. . . .

Defines “at large” as: (X) Running at large means an animal that is not completely confined by an enclosure of sufficient strength or construction to restrain the animal.

Sec. 22.03 Running at large prohibited; 
(A) It shall be unlawful for any owner of an animal, other than a cat, to cause, permit, suffer or allow the animal to run at large. . . .


Defines “at large” as: At large means:
(2) Off premises of owner, any animal which is not physically and continually restrained by some person by means of a leash or chain of proper strength and length that precludes the animal from making an unsolicited contact with any person . . .

Sec. 5-12. – Running at large and strays prohibited.
(a) It shall be unlawful for the owner of any dog to permit or allow such animal to run at large within the corporate limits of the city.

Defines “at large” as: At large means:
(2) Off premises of owner. Any animal which is not physically and continually restrained by some person, by means of a leash or chain of proper strength and length to preclude the animal from making unsolicited contact with any person, their clothing, their property, and/or their premises.

Sec. 6-2. – Animals running at large.
(a) It is unlawful for the owner or harborer of an animal to fail to prevent it from running at large within the city.

Defines “at large” as: At large or running at large shall mean an animal that is not physically confined or physically restrained at all times in one of the following methods:
(5) Securely restrained by being held in the grasp of a person who is able to effectively control the animal’s actions . . .

Sec. 3-61. – Animals at large.
It shall be a violation of this chapter for any owner, custodian or harborer of the following listed animals to fail or refuse to maintain physical restraint or to physically confine such animal in a manner which prevents it from being at large at any time:
(1) Dogs . . .

Definition of “at large” in Plano: At large means an animal that meets at least one (1) of the following criteria:
(2) An animal that is not under direct physical control of a person by means of a tether of sufficient strength and of a length of not more than six (6) feet. . . . 

Sec. 4-51. – Nuisances.
(a) A person commits an offense if the person is an owner of an animal and the person permits, or by insufficient control allows, any of the following to occur:
(2) The animal to be at large as defined by this chapter

Sec. 5-1. – Definitions.
Running at large means:
(1) Off premises: a. Any dog which is not restrained by means of a leash or chain of sufficient strength and not more than six feet in length to control the actions of such animal while off premises.

Sec. 5-10. – Duty of owners and persons in control of animals.
It shall be unlawful for any owner or person to:
(1) Fail to prevent any animal from running at large within the corporate limits of the city. . . . 

LANDLORD DUTIES IN DOG BITE CASES

Duty in Common areas: A landlord owes a duty to a tenant injured by an animal in common areas if the landlord had control over the area and actual knowledge that the animal was vicious. Batra v. Clark, 110 S.W.3d 126, 128 (Tex.App.—Houston [1st Dist] 2003, no pet.).

Duty in a Leased Premises: Landlords have a duty to non-tenants who are injured by an animal on the tenant’s leased property if the landlord had actual knowledge the animal was on the leased premises, had actual knowledge the animal had vicious tendencies, and had the ability to control the premises. Batra, 110 S.W.3d at 129-130. The ability to control would be relevant in situations where the landlord has the right to remove a dog from the premises under the terms of the lease.

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WHAT SHOULD I DO AFTER A DOG BITE?

If you require medical attention for your injuries, seek it. Obtain all records pertaining to your assault, including animal control records, medical records, police reports, and any other records/reports pertaining to what occurred. Take photos of any injuries. It is easier to describe an injury visually than it is to describe it verbally.

Avoid being a victim for the second time. If your injury occurred in North Texas, do not give the insurance company an “out” by attempting to handle your case on your own without first consulting with an experienced Dallas dog bite lawyer.

TYPES OF CASES WE HANDLE

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The Law Office of Doug Goyen handles personal injury cases throughout the state of Texas. This includes car crash cases (automobiles, 18 wheelers, motorcycles, pedestrians struck by vehicles, etc.), premises cases (such as injuries caused by a dangerous condition on a property), dog bite cases (or other animals where the owner let their animal loose or had a dangerous animal and the owner’s negligence causes injury to someone else), workplace injuries, and other injuries caused by the negligence or harmful acts of others.

Car Accident Lawyer: We deal with the insurance company and protect your rights while you focus on what you need to do to get better and take care of yourself and those around you.

Truck Accident Lawyer: Large commercial trucks do serious damage and cause serious injuries. We will fight for you to get you the compensation you deserve and protect your rights while you recover.

DWI Accident Lawyer: Drunk drivers cause serious injuries and death every year. We fight their insurance companies to get you compensated for the damage and injury they have caused you.

Pedestrian Accident Lawyer: Pedestrians struck by vehicles can suffer serious injuries. We represent people injured by negligent drivers and help our clients get compensation for their injury.

Bicycle Accident Lawyer: Bicyclists are at risk of serious injury when struck by vehicles. We represent bicyclists who have been struck by negligent drivers.

Dram Shop Act Lawyer: When bars or restaurants continue to over-serve drunk people and those people cause accidents with injuries, we help clients recover compensation for their injuries.

Motorcycle Accident Lawyer: We protect the rights of motorcyclists who have been injured by negligent drivers. We fight to get all the compensation due from the insurance company.

Premises Liability Lawyer: We help clients recover compensation for injuries caused by unsafe conditions on the property. Businesses have a duty to their customers to keep their establishments safe.

Dog Bite Lawyer: Dog owners who are irresponsible with their animals owe for any damage their negligence caused. We deal with the insurance company involved to get compensation for injuries caused by negligent dog owners.

Wrongful Death Lawyer: When someone dies due to negligence the family and estate have a claim against the negligent parties that caused the death. We represent families and estates in recovering compensation for the harm done.

Personal Injury Lawyer: Personal injuries are caused by negligence, assaults, and other acts where those who caused the injury owe for the injury caused. We help people with personal injury cases recover what they are owed for the damage caused.

Call For A Free Case Review (972) 599 4100

CASE REVIEWS ARE FREE

If you need a Dallas dog bite lawyer, contact us for a free phone consultation and strategy session about your case. The strategy session will include a summary of the facts discussed during the session, the identification of legal issues, and the identification of the most important legal issues that will maximize the value of your case. Contact a personal injury lawyer in Dallas today at (972) 599 4100. 

DIRECTIONS TO OUR OFFICE

15851 Dallas Pkwy #605
Addison, Texas 75001
(972) 599 4100 phone
(972) 398 2629 fax

Directions to our office: We are on the southbound side of the service road to the Tollway. Stay on the Dallas North Tollway until you come to the Keller Springs exit. Take the Keller Spring exit. Stay on the service road on the southbound side and go just past Keller Springs. Our office is the 2nd building south of Keller Springs, located on the service road to the North Dallas Tollway in the Madison Business Center on the 6th floor.

By Doug Goyen, douggoyen@goyenlaw.com

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Client Reviews
★★★★★
You want a great lawyer who keeps you informed on whats going on speaks with you personally and gets the job done call Doug Goyen. He is excellent & very professional you wont go wrong choosing him!! Thanks again for all your help Mr. Goyen! Socorro V.
★★★★★
Very efficient staff. I am VERY pleased with this firm. Gina W.
★★★★★
Very professional job handling my accident claim. I had some ER bills, and some visits to my ortho after (and various other bills that kept coming in). I was afraid I was going to get stuck owing money, but Doug Goyen took care of the case and had everything paid, including compensating me for the injury. Great lawyer IMO. I felt like my case was taken care of very well. Thx!! Bernard M.
★★★★★
Doug is a great attorney. He took care of my auto accident claim promptly, and answered any questions I had. I also had one of my hospital bills go into collections for non-payment. I was able to contact Doug a year after the accident, and received a copy of the check the hospital claimed they didn’t receive. I highly recommend this guy. David J.
★★★★★
The Law Office of Doug Goyen helped me recovery every bit I was owed on my claim. Very happy I used them. They knew what they were doing, and kept me informed. I felt taken care of the whole way. You wont go wrong using them. Arthur H.
★★★★★
Mr. Goyen helped me take on my own insurance company, the great and mighty Allstate. My prior firm basically dumped me, with a permanent injury because the case didn’t meet their financial guidelines for a settlement. I was a bicycle rider hit by a car driver at an intersection, and Allstate was the company on BOTH SIDES OF THE CLAIM. My own insurance company tried to throw me under the bus to limit their payout! Without Mr. Goyen’s help, I would have been left with NOTHING! I had thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills, unable to receive treatment to correct the issue. He was unafraid and helped me get the best settlement I could … I am tremendously thankful! Pamala M.