While there are many responsible dog owners in Texas with well-trained pets, bite injuries are still a very real concern any time an animal is present. Even a familiar dog can act aggressively and is capable of a bite that can cause severe and life-threatening injuries.
Under Texas law, victims of dog bite injuries may be able to recover financial damages from the dog’s owner in civil court for the cost of emergency treatment and medical bills, reconstructive surgery, the pain caused by the injury, and more. Here’s what you should know about dog bites and the law, and how you can get help recovering from your injury.
Texas “One Bite Rule” for Dog Bites
Receiving compensation for a dog bite in Texas can involve several legal steps because of the way Texas law addresses dog bites. In fact, it does not specifically address them at all, meaning that a common law concept sometimes called the “one bite rule” can take effect. This can make recovery difficult, but not impossible, for bite victims. This rule means that the victim may only be able to recover damages if the dog had a history of biting or trying to bite and that the owner was aware of this previous history. The term “one bite rule” came about because this has been interpreted as the owner receiving a “free bite” before being found liable for any future incidents.
Luckily for victims, there are other legal means through which one can attempt to recover damages. A negligence claim allows victims to file a suit alleging that the owner failed in his or her duty to act with reasonable care and precaution to prevent an otherwise foreseeable injury.
Proving a negligence claim for a dog bite is similar to any other negligence claim. It involves four key legal steps:
- You must show ownership of the animal. You must show that the defendant either owned or otherwise possessed and was responsible for the animal.
- A duty of care must exist. You must show that the defendant had a duty of care to control the animal and prevent it from biting.
- There was a failure to uphold that duty. You must also show that the defendant failed to act reasonably or prudently in handling or failing to control the animal, breaching the duty of care.
- The breach of duty caused you harm. Finally, you must show that the negligent action of the defendant was the direct cause of your injuries.
You may also make a claim for damages if the defendant was violating a law, such as an animal control statute. For instance, if the injury was caused by an off-leash dog in an area where all animals are required to be leashed, or the animal was trespassing, this could be the basis for a negligence lawsuit and the victims could seek recovery from the dog’s owner or handler.
Landlords may also be held responsible for dog bites, under certain circumstances. The injury must have happened in a common area that the landlord owns or is responsible for, and the landlord must have been aware that the dog that caused the injury was dangerous.
Get Legal Help for Dog Bite Injuries
A personal injury attorney can help victims recover from an injury. It is important for victims to get legal help as soon as possible after the bite because there is a two-year statute of limitation that applies to dog bite injury lawsuits. After that time has passed, victims will be legally unable to pursue compensation in a court of law, no matter how severe the injury was or who was responsible.
If a dangerous dog has hurt you or someone you love, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you. We are here to stand up for the legal rights of those who have been injured by negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing, and we want to help you and your family start the recovery process today. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced legal professional, call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.