When you think about dogs causing injury, most people automatically imagine dog bites. Unfortunately, dog attacks aren't the only way dogs injure people - loose dogs in the road can pose serious hazards to the dog, your car, you, your passengers and other drivers.
The Law on Loose Dogs in Texas
In Texas, it's illegal to allow your dog to roam loose. Dogs must be securely contained either in the home, inside a fenced yard or on a leash. Sadly, not all dog owners are diligent and many dogs escape and end up in the road - the last place we want them. Drivers who encounter a dog in the road automatically swerve to avoid it, causing them to wreck into other cars, pedestrians, trees, mailboxes, and so on.
As a North Texas personal injury attorney, I've also seen cases where a driver slammed their brakes to avoid hitting a loose dog, causing the driver behind them to rear-end them. This, of course, leads to unnecessary property damage and injury.
Who's Responsible When a Loose Dog Causes an Accident?
If the car accident was a single car accident (meaning your car was the only one involved), then it's likely that the dog's owner will be found at-fault for the wreck and their insurance will be responsible for paying for your damages and injury. As I mentioned, it's an owner's job to keep their dog from harming others. By allowing their dog to escape - whether or not it was by mistake - they neglected to protect others from their dog. Any damage done (including the damage to your car and injury to your body) will be their responsibility.
If multiple cars were involved in the accident, then it's likely that more than one party will be found at-fault. So, let's say you're rear-ended by another driver as you slam on your brakes to avoid hitting a dog in the road. The driver who rear-ended you could be found partially at-fault for driving too close behind you, but the dog's owner could also be found at-fault for the reasons listed above.
Unlike some states, Texas allows multiple people to share fault in an accident.
(Want to learn more about how to make a successful car accident claim in Texas? Download my free guide instantly).
What If I Don't Know Who the Dog Belongs To?
You need to find out. Ideally, after a wreck you'll be able to use the dog's collar to identify the owner. This is a bit of a task, especially if the dog is uncooperative or aggressive, if you're hurt, if the dog runs away or isn't wearing a collar, if you forget to think about it, and so on.
If you're unable to get the dog's information, you might try asking people in the area if they recognize the dog or know who it might belong to. You can also take the dog to your local shelter to see if it's been microchipped, which will give you the owner's information if the dog doesn't have a collar.
What If I Know The Dog Owner?
Some people worry about making a claim against someone they know. Since most dog-on-car accident happen around familiar settings - like in neighborhoods - there's a chance you'll know the person who you're claiming against. So what if you don't want to cause bad blood between you?
You need to make a claim anyway. The claim will go through their homeowner's insurance policy, not their auto insurance, so their rates won't go up. Making a claim against someone's home insurance is not the same as making a claim against their car, motorcycle or truck insurance because it will not count against them or hurt their premiums. Besides, this is why we all carry insurance in the first place - to use it when there's an accident!
Do You Need a Lawyer?
Not all accident victims need an attorney. However, if you're having trouble getting the other parties to cooporate or if you have serious damages and injuries, you could benefit from a free consulation. You can also check out my article: How Do I Know If I Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
For more information, or to schedule a no fee, no obligation consultation on your case, call us locally at 817-294-1900.
Alternatively, you can fill out the form on the bottom of this page and one of our experienced attorneys will call you back as soon as possible.
Other Articles You Might Be Interested In:
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Will a Judge or Jury Decide My Car Wreck Case?
Making a Dog Attack Claim When The Owner Is Someone I Know
Why do I have to pay back my health insurance company?
5 Important Things to Help You with Your Injury Claim