Q: Do I have to show that the animal was vicious in order to recover?
A: Sometimes. If you are bitten by a dog that has never shown signs of aggression. Such an owner might be able to argue that he could not have prevented the attack. Since he had no reason to know that the dog would bite.
In contrast, if the attack is by a guard dog or a dog bred for aggression or fighting (like pit bulls). Assuming the animal has shown aggression in the past, the owner will probably be liable. Certainly, for not taking the necessary steps to prevent your injuries. Hence, the best way to pursue a claim arising out of an animal attack is with an attorney who can help you determine the precise scope of your rights under a given set of facts.
Q: Assuming I have a claim, what kind of compensation can I recover?
A: The answer depends very much on the facts of your case. Certainly, you should be able to recover your medical expenses. Also any wages you lost if your injuries rendered you unable to work. If the attack has left you scarred or disfigured. Probably enabling you to recover the costs of any cosmetic surgery necessary to correct the problem.
Also possibly be entitled to something for your pain and suffering, and, in truly terrible cases…You may even be able to recover “extra” damages to punish the animal’s owner if he is guilty of serious negligence or wrongdoing.
Q: What will happen to the animal and its owner? Will they get in criminal trouble?
A: Here again, the facts determine the answer. If the attack was by an otherwise good-natured family pet with no history of prior attacks. Probably nothing will happen to the dog or its owner. However, if the dog has a history of attacking people, the authorities may find that it is dangerous and have it “put down.”
A new law enacted in Texas after several high-profile animal attacks make it possible for the animal’s owner to be held criminally liable. Especially in cases involving wrongful death and serious personal injury. But, as with all things legal, the facts will determine the outcome.
Contact us at the Messina Law Firm, if you or someone you know has been injured in an animal attack. Or if you just have questions about an animal attack you have been injured in.