Dog Bites and the Law in Texas

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Dog Bites and the Law in Texas

There’s no actual dog census, but in 2016 the American Veterinary Medical Association estimated that Texas has about 7.2 million dogs, more than any other state. Unfortunately, not every one of the millions is a good dog. Some of them are biters. What are your rights if you are injured by a bite from man’s or woman’s best friend? 

The biting dog’s owner is ultimately responsible for your injury. Texas law has no statutes that specifically cover a dog owner’s civil liability for damages caused by their animal’s biting someone. However, the dog owner potentially incurs civil and criminal liability for injuries caused by their animal.

Under a 1974 Texas Supreme Court ruling, the state follows an existing rule: Texas is a “negligence” or “one bite rule” state for purposes of personal injury cases stemming from dog bites.  In dog bite cases, the injured party must demonstrate that the dog’s owner knew that the dog had acted aggressively or bitten a person in the past, due the owner’s negligence in failing to control the dog or keep it from biting.

Dogs can cause other injuries besides bites. The owner of a big dog that jumps on a person and knocks the person down, causing injury, is responsible for any damages claimed by the injured person.  The same rule applies: the plaintiff must show that the dog’s owner either knew the dog was aggressive or had failed to use reasonable care to prevent the dog from harming others.

The demonstration of negligence applies in most dog bite cases.  Some dog bites can, however, cause serious injuries. In such a case the animal’s owner may face criminal charges in addition to civil liability.  According to Dani Ryskamp, writing in nolo.com’s legal encyclopedia, a dog’s owner may be charged with a criminal negligence felony if the owner, knowing the dog has been shown to be a “dangerous dog,”   fails to secure the dog. If the dog, without provocation, attacks someone at a location other than the owner’s property, outside its own secure enclosure, criminal charges can apply. If the animal attack causes serious injury or death, the dog’s owner may also face a civil lawsuit or a Texas wrongful death claim.

At Hudson Law Firm, we put PERSONAL back into Personal Injury Law. For an injury claim evaluation, call us at (972) 360-9898, or visit our website to chat with an associate. We understand and care about your injury, and look forward to helping you with your accident claim.