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How do I find a Defense Attorney to defend me in a dog bite case as the dog owner if my insurance doesn't cover it?

Katy, TX |

I need advice on how to proceed if a lawsuit is filed against me personally.

Attorney Answers 9


  1. Turn the claim into your homeowners insurance ASAP. It should cover this claim.


  2. Homeowners insurance will probably cover & if necessary provide free defense attorney. Otherwise, you can locate a defense attorney right here on AVVO under the tab "Find a Lawyer" - many offer free consultations

    This is not intended to be legal advise or as legal representation. I am a California personal injury attorney . Be aware that every state has its own statute of limitations; and statutes & case laws that govern the handling of these matters.


  3. Call a good plaintiff's lawyer and they ought to be able to refer you to a good defense lawyer.


  4. Unfortunately, most defense lawyers these days are directly employed by insurance companies and most personal injury lawyers do not do defense work. You will probably need to go with a general practice attorney in your area.

    This is not legal advice. You should always discuss the specifics of your issue in person with an attorney. Be aware that there are time limits on all claims that depend on the kind of claim, so do not delay in seeking an attorney.


  5. Plaintiff's lawyers are capable of handling these matters in the unlikely event that your insurance will not defend you and provide an attorney.


  6. You need a board certified personal injury lawyer. If you are served with suit papers, you have a short time to answer the lawsuit before a default judgment can be entered against you (potentially for far more than the case is worth). If you retain me, I will defend the case per your objectives after visiting with you about a cost-benefit analysis.

    Some homeowner's policies exclude certain breeds of dogs. Your liability insurer may be wrong on its coverage decision. If you retain me, I would also review your insurance policy, as well as related items, and try to force your insurer to defend you even if it reserves its rights to not indemnify you (pay a judgment). You should hire personal counsel even if your insurer provides a conditional defense.

    An initial telephone conversation is free. Do not delay as your rights may be adversely affected.

    John Zgourides
    Board Certified, Personal Injury Trial Law
    Texas Board of Legal Specialization
    (713) 876-7001
    www.zgourides.com

    My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.


  7. If your insurance company has denied coverage and will not hire an attorney to represent you, then the burden is on you to hire your own attorney (unless you want to defend the lawsuit yourself, which is not a course of action I would recommend). You will need to find an attorney who handles personal injury matters, ideally with experience defending dog bite lawsuits, and speak to that attorney about how they would charge. The attorney will probably want a retainer up front before accepting the representation, but not necessarily. Some attorneys will defend cases on a flat fee arrangement, others want to be paid by the hour.

    If you have been properly served with the lawsuit then you must file an answer on or before the Monday after the expiration of 20-days from the date you were served. If you do not file an answer, the Plaintiff may be able to take a default judgment against you (that's where the Plaintiff wins by default because you did not appear and answer the lawsuit).

    As a side note, if you hire an attorney you should ask him/her to take a look at your insurance policy and the reason for your insurance company's denial of coverage. Just because an insurance company denies a claim does not necessarily mean their denial is fair or justified. Good luck.


  8. Have a local bad faith lawyer investigate the coverage


  9. You do not need to hire a board certified attorney. I practice animal law in San Antonio, and know there are numerous animal law attorneys in the Houston area. You might want to contact the Houston Bar Association and see if they can put you in touch with the Animal Law Section. There are many attorneys who are privy to these causes of action. If insurance denies coverage, you need someone who can take this case beyond that...not just spend countless hours fighting the insurance company (and making the attorney very rich at the same time). Normally, dog bite cases can be mitigated....and many times, if you can show you were not at fault, you would not owe anything. Additionally, you should be spending time fighting the city regarding dangerous dog determinations (where there is a possibility the dog would be euthanized, or you would be required to carry a certain amount of insurance coverage). Good luck to you.

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