Your Rights When You’re Attacked or Bitten
At most times, a dog truly is “man’s best friend.” But it’s also true that dogs are wild animals that have been domesticated by humans. When you ignore the known or obvious aggressive tendencies of a canine (or even nurture or encourage those tendencies), a dog can pose a risk of serious injury or even death. What are the duties of dog owners in the state of Texas? What are your rights if you’re mauled, jumped on, or bitten by someone else’s dog?
Dog Bite Laws in Texas
Unlike most states across the country, Texas does not apply the concept of strict liability to dog owners. Strict liability principles make a dog owner liable for injuries without a showing that the owner was negligent. Under Texas law, to recover compensation for any injuries suffered as a result of a dog bite or animal attack, you must show that the owner of the animal was negligent. Negligence requires a showing that:
- The dog owner did not act as a reasonable person would under the same circumstances;
- Because of the failure to act reasonably, an accident or incident occurred; and
- You suffered actual losses as a result of the accident.
No statute identifies what specific behavior qualifies as reasonable in a given situation. Whether a person’s behavior was reasonable is determined by the finder of fact (the jury, if there is one; otherwise, the judge) on a case-by-case basis. In reaching a decision, juries must give weight to previous decisions in cases involving similar facts.
With respect to dog bites and animal attacks, Texas follows the “one bite” rule, which is a bit of a double-edged sword. While it essentially holds that an owner is not liable the first time their dog bites someone, it also supports a finding that the owner of a dog that has bitten someone in the past is more likely to be considered negligent if the dog bites someone a second time.
Accordingly, if you are hurt in an attack by someone else’s dog, you must prove the following to recover damages:
- The owner of the dog knew that the dog had bitten someone before or had engaged in aggressive behavior with another person;
- The dog’s owner did not take reasonable measures, in response to that knowledge, to minimize the risk that the dog would be aggressive with or bite others; and
- As a result of that failure, you suffered injuries in a dog bite or attack.
The Texas dog-bite laws are more expansive than the term suggests—they allow injured people to recover for injuries suffered in any type of attack, from scratches to bruises or even broken bones caused when a dog kn0cks you down.
Defenses to a Dog Bite Claim
Because Texas dog-bite claims are based on a legal theory of negligence, there are essentially two defenses to such a lawsuit:
- The dog owner neither knew nor had reason to know of the dog’s aggressive behavior; or
- The person who got bitten was trespassing at the time of the attack.
Contact the Proven Dog-Bite Lawyers at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we know that a dog bite or animal attack can have devastating consequences. For an appointment with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at 844-402-2992. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.