Deciding whether or not to pursue legal action in a dog bite case can be difficult. Were you to blame? Can you even receive compensation? Don’t worry, the attorneys at Paxton Law are here to answer all of those questions and more.
Texas Laws Regarding Dog Bites
In many states, there is something known as the “one bite rule.” This rule states that if the incident is the first time the dog has bitten someone, then they cannot be held liable for the bite. In Texas, this rule does not apply. This means that even if the dog has never attacked anyone before, the owner can still be held liable for the bite/attack.
According to Texas Health and Safety Code § 822.005, a person can be held liable for their dog’s bite if they “fail to secure the dog and the dog makes an unprovoked attack on another person that occurs at a location other than the owner’s real property […] that causes serious bodily injury.”
They can also be held liable if they “know the dog is a dangerous dog […] that the person is the owner of a dangerous dog, and the dangerous dog makes an unprovoked attack on another person that occurs at a location other than a secure enclosure in which the dog is restrained […] and that causes serious bodily injury […]or death to the other person.”
Dog Bite Claims—Strict Liability and Negligence (Personal Injury)
Due to there being no “one bite rule” in Texas, a dog bite claim will fall into one of two categories: strict liability and negligence. Strict liability is used when the owner was aware that the dog had a history of being aggressive and failed to take proper action, and negligence is when the owner was negligent with the dog and this negligence led to the plaintiff’s injuries.
With strict liability claims, it is the plaintiff’s responsibility to prove that:
● The defendant is the dog’s owner/possessor
● That the dog has a history of being aggressive or dangerous
● That the owner knew the dog had this history (or had reason to know)
● That the dog caused the injuries to the plaintiff
In a negligence claim, which falls under the umbrella of personal injury claims, the plaintiff must prove that the dog’s owner/possessor/handler was negligent and that their negligence cause the plaintiff’s injuries. This can include situations where:
● The dog was not properly restrained
● The dog was not trained or poorly trained
● The defendant made no effort to intervene in the attack
What to do (and not do) if you are bit by a dog:
After you have been attacked/bitten by a dog, there are certain measures you need to take in order to ensure you can pursue a dog bite claim.
● File a police report
● Get statements from witnesses or get witness contact information
● Receive treatment for your injuries
● Take photos/document the injuries
● Follow your doctor’s instructions on caring for your injury
● Speak with your insurance company
● Settle with your insurance company
● Lie to anyone involved (this includes police, doctors, lawyers, and insurance adjusters)
● Post about your experiences on social media (this can come back to bite you later)
When to Pursue Dog Bite Cases
Pursuing a dog bite case can weigh heavy on peoples’ conscience. It is a difficult decision for some people to decide to pursue legal action. However, if you suffered from significant medical expenses, lost wages due to your injury, or have permanent scarring from the injury, it is in your best interest to pursue a dog bite case. Even if you only suffered from minor damages, you can still recover financial compensation.
Since many homeowner’s insurance companies cover dog bites, most dog bite cases are settled with the insurance company of the dog’s owner and never even go to court. This is not always the case, and sometimes the insurance companies or defendants may try to place the blame on you.
Defenses to Dog Bite Laws
Some dog bite claims cases may go to court if the defendant claims:
● They did not know the dog was dangerous
● The plaintiff was trespassing when they were bitten
If the defendant did not know the dog was dangerous, and this can be proven, then they may not have to pay damages. Similarly, if the plaintiff was in fact trespassing when they were bitten, this may fall under premises liability, and the plaintiff may share comparative negligence with the defendant.
Dog Bite Lawyer in Texas
No matter what your situation, the attorneys at Paxton Law are ready to fight for you. With over 20 years of experience, the attorneys at Paxton Law are here to help. Have you been bitten or attacked by a dog? Call us at (281) 978-2244, or visit our website for a free consultation. Get the compensation you deserve by letting the attorneys at Paxton Law fight for you.