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Sunday, March 26, 2017

What is the Law Regarding Dog Bite Injuries in Texas?

Dog bites should be taken seriously. Bites from both small and large dogs can cause severe internal injuries resulting in significant muscle damage and in some cases, death. According to Dogsbite.org, between 2005 and 2016, canines killed 392 Americans. Unfortunately, between 2005 and 2013, Texas had the highest dog bite fatalities in the country with 34 deaths. Even more unfortunate, up to 68% of the victims were children under 11 years old.

In addition to debilitating muscle injuries, bites can cause substantial scarring, which can cause long-term psychological trauma, especially for small children. If you or your child has been bitten by a dog in Texas, you owe it to yourself and your family to seek compensation for the physical, medical, financial, emotional and psychological burden the injury has caused. A Texas personal injury lawyer can help.

Texas Dog Bite Injury Law Primer

Unlike many states, Texas has no dog bite statute. Courts determine many dog bite cases based on the one-bite rule of common law. The rule provides that a dog owner is not liable for a bite caused by his/her dog absent a previous record of attack. The rule effectively grants every dog a “free bite” carrying no legal implications for both its owner and itself, unless it can be shown the owner had previous knowledge of the dog’s vicious propensities. It is, therefore, important that dog-bite victims conduct adequate research to ascertain whether a dog had previously attacked someone or had acted as if it wanted to attack someone.

Thankfully, this information is not necessary if it can be shown a pet owner knew of the dog’s viciousness. In addition, some dangerous breeds are not protected by the one bite rule.

There are other legal paths to claiming compensation for dog bites outside the one bite rule. Here are two:

Negligent Handling

Pet owners owe a duty to control their pets; to handle them in a reasonable way so as not to cause injury or harm to others. They owe a duty of care to society not to allow their pets to endanger the lives of others. A breach of this duty of care gives rise to a cause of action for negligent handling.

To recover damages in a suit for negligent handling, you have to prove: the defendant was the owner of the dog, the defendant owed a duty of care to restrict the dog from injuring others, the defendant failed in his/her duty and the injury was as a result of the breach of duty.

One of the advantages of this action is that you do not have to prove the dog had previously attacked someone or that the owner knew his/her dog was vicious.

Negligence Per Se

Texas municipal laws prescribe certain control laws for pets. These include requirements to leash dogs, keep them securely restrained and to prevent them from trespassing private property such as school grounds. These laws are quite expansive.

Pet owners will be presumed to have acted negligently if they violate any of these laws and cause injury to others. All you need to prove is that there was a duty that was breached, which lead to injury.

Many dog owners defend their dogs at the expense of the victim. Do not despair. Every breach of duty gives rise to a claim for damages. If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, If you or someone you care about has been injured by a dog, call Sawicki Law today at 888-468-8844 for a free consultation.


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