When a dog bites you or a loved one, it can be hard to know what to do next. Who’s to blame? Who should be held accountable for the actions of a dog? A knowledgeable dog bite attorney can provide you with answers to these questions and help you determine if you are eligible for compensation.
Texas Dog Bite Laws & Liability
Texas dog bite laws are somewhat complex, and determining liability can be difficult.
Who Is at Fault for a Dog Bite?
Generally, the person who is legally in control of a dog is at fault when a dog bite happens. In most cases, that is the owner of the dog. However, if the dog owner signs a contract leaving their dog in the control of a doggie daycare, dog sitter, walker, groomer, or other person, they may be responsible for an out-of-control dog.
The person at fault will be financially liable for any damages caused by the dog. That means you can get compensation for any medical bills, lost wages, and other losses that are the result of the dog bite.
The Texas ‘One Bite Rule’
While Texas does not have a specific law that details a dog owner’s responsibility for injuries caused by their dog, the state does follow case law, which has been established through decisions of prior similar court cases. In 1974, the Texas Supreme Court made a ruling in Marshall v. Ranne that became known as the “one bite rule.”
Does This Law Limit Owner Liability?
The one-bite rule does not give a dog one bite free without any liability to the owner. The owner will still be responsible for any losses incurred from the first bite.
However, if an owner does not have any knowledge of their dog biting in the past, then they will not be held liable for things like punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish someone for excessive wrongdoing, not simple negligence, which is the basis of most personal injury claims.
What if the Dog Has a History of Violence?
If the dog owner is aware of the dog having a vicious past, it is considered a “dangerous dog.” The dog owner is required to register the dog with local animal control authorities, keep it restrained, and obtain liability insurance for at least $100,000 of potential bodily injuries.
What is a ‘Dangerous Dog?’
According to Texas Health and Safety Code Section 822.041, a dangerous dog has behaved viciously in the past. That may include making an unprovoked attack on a person that causes injuries. It may also include committing unprovoked acts that make someone believe the dog will attack them and cause harm.
There is an exception if these behaviors take place within the dog’s enclosure.
Who Will Pay for My Damages in a Dog Bite Case?
The person at fault in your dog bite case may not be the same party that is ultimately financially liable for your damages. In many cases, an insurance company will pay for your injuries and losses.
If the dog was considered a “dangerous dog,” the owner would have a special liability policy on the dog. Otherwise, their homeowners’ or renters’ insurance may cover damages. If the dog was under the control of a walker, groomer, daycare, or other company, their business insurance will cover your losses.
Your attorney will need to determine how much your case is worth and how much the owner’s insurance policy will cover.
How Can a Dog Bite Lawyer Help Me?
If you or a loved one was bitten by a dog, you should immediately contact a dog bite lawyer in Texas. Your attorney can investigate the animal’s past and determine if it was considered a “dangerous dog.”
If the owner should have known the dog was vicious or the dog has bitten anyone in the past, you may be able to obtain additional compensation.
Some steps your dog bite attorney will take include:
- Obtaining the police report regarding the bite incident
- Investigating the behavior past of the dog
- Obtaining veterinary and shot records for the dog
- Investigating the person or company in control of the dog (the owner, groomer, or doggie daycare)
- Collecting and organizing your medical bills
- Obtaining expert opinions about the accident and your medical future
- Assessing the value of your dog bite case
- Negotiating with the insurance company
- Taking your case to court, if necessary
Call Anderson Injury Lawyers for a Dog Bite Case
Contact Anderson Injury Lawyers for a free consultation of your specific case. We will listen to your story and help you decide the best steps forward.