Today, there was another horrific dog bite attack. This time, the dog attack happened in League City, when Chelsi Camp and her two year old daughter were attacked by a pit bull owned by Ms. Camp’s boyfriend.
This is another reminder that these types of cases are terrible. The injuries are often severe, and these types of attacks can traumatize someone, especially a child, for a lifetime.
These types of cases also have legal misconceptions. Most people believe that there is a “one free bite” rule — that a dog must have made a prior attack before the owner can be held liable for injuries caused by the dog. This is a misconception. Instead, the owner of a dog may be liable for injuries caused by the dog if the owner knows the dog has dangerous propensities. That knowledge can be proven by showing prior attacks by the dog, but that knowledge can also be proven through other means. For example, you can argue dangerous propensities by showing the dog had a history of barking at kids, jumping on people, barking at the gate when people walk by, etc. You can also prove dangerous propensities by simply showing the type of dog. In the instance above, the dog involved was a pit bull. A lawyer could argue that the owner knew the dog had dangerous propensities because pit bulls are known to be a dangerous breed of dogs.
That’s not to say these cases are easy. There are a number of complicated factors. First, you need to know whether insurance is available. If the dog owner is a homeowner, then the owner will usually have homeowner’s insurance that will typically cover your claim.
If the dog owner rents his house or apartment, that’s more difficult. If the dog owner has renter’s insurance, the liability component of the insurance will likely cover your claim. But if the dog owner doesn’t have renter’s insurance, then the claim becomes more tricky. At that point, you may be left with only making a claim against the owner of the home or apartment. It’s possible to make these claims, but it is much more difficult to sue the owner directly.
You may also be able to sue the person in charge of the dog. In this instance, Ms. Camp was petsitting for her boyfriend, and she failed to control the dog, leading to the attack. This could be an unusual situation where an attorney ad litem appointed to represent Ms. Camp’s child could file suit against Ms. Camp for Ms. Camp’s negligent conduct in failing to properly handle the dog.
As you can see, these cases are complicated. If you ever find yourself in need of an attorney in these types of cases, make sure you call us or another firm that has handled serious dog bite cases.