Volunteer Dies Due to Blood Loss from Dog Bites
News headlines have been dominated by the story of an animal shelter volunteer who was found dead due to severe blood loss suffered after incurring a number of dog bites at the shelter where she volunteered. The police are now investigating the incident, although the cause of death has already been ruled as exsanguination. There is no question that, had the dog been adopted out, this same incident could have happened to small children.
The Law in Texas
In Texas, someone commits an offense if they are the owner of a dangerous dog and that dog makes an unprovoked attack on someone outside of their enclosure and causes bodily injury. However, it is a defense to prosecution if the person is employed by a reputable animal shelter (or is a veterinarian, etc.) and has temporary custody or ownership of the dog.
Once someone realizes that they own a dangerous dog, they must not only register and restrain the dog, but also obtain liability insurance coverage (or otherwise demonstrate financial responsibility) for at least $100,000 to cover any damages caused by an attack from the dog that leads to bodily injury.
Texas also follows the “one bite rule” when it comes to determining negligence, meaning that the injured individual can recover damages if the dog’s owner knew that the dog was aggressive or had previously bitten someone, or the dog’s owner was negligent in preventing the bite from occurring (i.e. failed to use reasonable care to prevent the dog bite), and that negligence caused their injuries. Note that the bite does not have to occur on the dog owner’s property in order for the injured individual to recover damages; dog owners can be held liable if, for example, they allowed their dog to roam the neighborhood and this led to the dog bite injury or related death.
It is also important to note that this policy does not only apply to injuries related to dog bites, per se: If a dog injures you after knocking you down, for example, you may also be able to recover damages if the injuries are linked to the dog owner failing to act reasonably to prevent the dog from causing the injury.
Contact Our Texas Dog Bite Attorneys
Every day in the U.S., thousands of dog bites occur; many of which are seriously dangerous; and can even lead to death. In this case, the animal shelter arguably failed to act reasonably so as to prevent injuries (and death) in its volunteers who worked with the dogs.
If you or a loved one has suffered due to a dog bite, contact our experienced Houston dog bite attorneys at The West Law Office today to find out how we can help. Note that there is a statute of limitations when it comes to filing a dog bite (i.e. personal injury) case in the state—two years.