Dog Bite Laws In Texas
While dogs are known as man’s best friend, they can also cause serious injuries. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, approximately 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year. As many as 800,000 of these dog bites will require medical treatment.
For victims of dog bites in Texas, understanding the state laws regarding dog bites is very important. Understanding these laws and getting the correct guidance from an Odessa personal injury attorney can be the difference in the compensation you receive,
Texas Dog Bite Statutes
The state of Texas does not have a statute covering dog bites specifically. This makes it one of the few states that does not have a dog bite statute.
Texas relies on a 1974 Supreme Court ruling for personal injury cases for dog bites. The ruling in Marshall v. Ranne stated that Texas is a “negligence” or “one bite rule” state following Section 509 of the Restatement of Torts.
For dog bite victims, this means you must prove that:
- The dog had bitten someone or acted aggressively in the past and that the owner knew of the dog’s past behavior
- The dog’s owner did not use reasonable care to control the dog or prevent the bite
“Vicious, Dangerous or Mischievous” Dog Bites
While the “negligence” rule applies in the majority of Texas dog bite cases, there are cases where Texas will apply a “strict liability” rule. These cases generally are the result of the dog’s known nature, in which the dog is known to be “vicious, dangerous or mischievous”. This designation could be the result of the dog having bitten someone in the past, which resulted in the dog being classified as “dangerous”.
Dogs can be classified as dangerous for a number of reasons, including:
- Breed: Certain breeds of dog are known to be vicious. Some examples include pit bulls, German shepherds and rottweilers. While the breed of dog does not classify them as vicious on its own, it can be used to show that a dog is vicious.
- Training: Some dogs are trained to attack on command or are trained to be guard dogs. If a dog has had this type of training, the dog owner knows the dog is vicious.
- Previous Attacks: As mentioned above, if a dog has a history of bites, they will be classified as vicious. In order to prove this, a dog bite victim will need evidence. This can be gathered by:
- Previous Injury Victims: Whether it is a neighbor, postal worker or a random person, having evidence from a previous dog bite victim can prove they are vicious.
- Police Reports: Most dog attacks are reported to the police. These records can prove the dangerous nature of the dog.
- Animal Control: Similar to the police report, most dog attacks are reported to Animal Control.
In the case of a “dangerous dog”, the injured person would not have to prove that the owner was negligent. The injured person would be entitled to damages by showcasing that the dog was classified as dangerous.
Are Other Dog Injuries Covered?
Dog bites may be the most common injuries resulting from dogs, but they are not the only injuries dogs can cause. For example, large dogs can cause injuries when they jump on someone. The same rules apply to this situation. Under Texas law, if a person is injured by a dog in any way, they can bring a claim against the dog’s owner. Just like a dog bit, the injured person would have to prove that the dog owner was negligent, which resulted in the injury.
Do Dog Bite Cases Go To Court?
Dog bite cases can end up in court. Criminal charges can be brought against a dog owner in cases where severe injuries were caused. These cases will be brought to court.
In Texas, a dog’s owner may be charged with a felony if:
- The owner “with criminal negligence” fails to secure the dog, and the dog attacks someone, unprovoked, at a location away from the owner’s real or personal property, or
- The owner knows the dog is a “dangerous dog” and the dog attacks someone, unprovoked, outside its own secure enclosure, and
- Either of these situations causes serious bodily injury or death.
Criminal dog bite cases can also include civil lawsuits or wrongful death claims.
When Can A Dog Bite Victim Be Liable?
In some cases, the person injured by the dog bite can also be liable. These cases generally are the result of trespassing. If the victim was unlawfully trespassing on the dog owners property, they can make the case that the victim bears some of the responsibility.
Hiring an Odessa Dog Bite Attorney
It is strongly recommended that any dog bite victims seek legal counsel following the incident. A professional Odessa dog bite attorney will provide the correct guidance to get the maximum compensation. From the gathering of evidence to filing the claim, an Odessa dog bite attorney will know exactly how to handle the case.
If you or a loved one was the victim of a dog bite, contact the Odessa personal injury law firm of The Law Offices of Heriberto Ramos. With years of experience handling personal injury cases, we can assist you with your case.