Punitive Damages Awarded in Austin, TX Dog Bite Case
Tony Plohetski, investigative reporter for KVUE, talked with the victim, his caregivers, and attorney Jason McMinn, founder, McMinn Law Firm in Austin about the injury, recovery, trial, outcome, award, punitive damages, and implications of the recent Georgetown dog bite trial.
I think the verdict speaks volumes for what the Williamson County Citizens feel about feeling safe in their backyard. It also sends a clear message that pet owners need to take responsibility when they know they have a dangerous animal and it has previously bitten someone.
-Jason McMinn, founder McMinn Law Firm
Austin Personal Injury Lawyer Jason McMinn’s Trial Win for Dog Attack Victim Featured on KVUE News
Dec 16, 2015:
Today in a trial with McMinn Law Firm representing the dog bite victim, members of the jury found defendants to be guilty of negligence and gross negligence. The verdict awarded $110,000, 10K of which are purely punitive damages. Attorney’s Fees: $44,000.
Texas Has “One Bite Rule,” which means: One Dog – One Bite
This means that the case for liability must be proven to the courts. Under the “one bite rule,” to receive compensation for the injury, the owner had to know the dog had bitten before or had tried to bite; therefore, the owner had knowledge of the dog’s behavior. (Restatement of Torts, Section 509)
The standard for determining if a dog owner is “negligent,” and, therefore, liable for the actions of their dog was established by the Texas courts, Allen ex rel, B.A. v Albin, 97 S.W. 3d 655, 665 (Tex. App.-Waco 202, no pet). “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 plaintiff’s injury.”
If you or a family member has been the victim of an animal attack, it’s a good idea to talk with a personal injury lawyer who has experience in dog bite cases. Whether you may need help dealing with your own insurance company or the owner of the dog, an experienced lawyer can answer your questions and guide you in knowing what to expect.
What To Do After A Dog Bite
- Get medical attention. Unless the bite is very minor, go to the doctor immediately. It’s important the paperwork for the doctor visit makes note that the dog was the cause of injury.
- Get the owners information. If you are able, taking the name, address, and phone number of the owner is important, even if you initially do not intend to take legal action.
- Note any witnesses and get their information If you are able, after the accident take down any names and information of people who witnessed the incident.
- Report incident to your local animal control authority. Municipalities carefully track dog attacks and dangerous dogs. If the dog did not have tags, then animal control will quarantine the dog and make sure he or she is not rabid. If the dog has an owner, tags, and up-to-date rabies shots, this will not be an issue.