More than 4.5 million dog attacks occur across the United States every single year. Of those who are bitten, nearly 1 in 5 sustains severe enough injuries that they need medical attention.
Like other unanticipated injuries, those that result from an animal attack—e.g., puncture wounds, fractures, and nerve damage—can be devastating physically, emotionally, and financially. Thankfully, Texas tort law usually allows victims to take action against the animal’s owner.
If you were bitten by someone else’s dog in the Lone Star State, you’re going to have to prove the following in order to hold the owner liable:
- The owner knew—or should have known—the animal had a history of aggression; and
- The owner failed to take reasonable measures to prevent the animal from hurting you.
These elements are based on the “one bite rule,” which states owners have a duty to prevent future attacks after their dogs exhibit aggressive behavior toward people. In other words, Texas does not typically hold owners liable the first time their dog bites someone.
Since the “one bite rule” adds a layer of complexity to an already challenging situation, it’s wise to seek legal counsel if you intend to file a personal injury claim following an animal attack. A resourceful lawyer can help you establish liability by:
- Demonstrating proof of ownership;
- Interviewing eyewitnesses who can vouch that you did not provoke the dog;
- Confirming the dog’s general demeanor with the owner’s neighbors and mail carrier; and
- Reviewing any animal control records regarding past incidents involving the dog.
What Constitutes a Dangerous Dog?
Since the outcome of your case depends on whether the dog that bit you posed an obvious threat, it’s advisable to review what the state of Texas considers a “dangerous dog.” Pursuant to the Texas Health and Safety Code §822.041, a dangerous dog is one that has attacked at least once before without any provocation. The attack must have caused bodily harm or at least led the victim to believe bodily harm was imminent.
Once a dog has bitten someone, proving itself dangerous in the process, the owner is required to register it with the local animal control office. The owner also has an obligation to restrain the dog adequately both in their yard and in public.
It’s important to note that in addition to the laws mentioned above, Texas allows counties and cities to enact and enforce their own statutes regarding animal attacks and dangerous dogs. There is one exception, however, regarding specific breeds. Municipalities cannot pass any “umbrella” laws that automatically assume all dogs of a particular breed are dangerous.
Speak with a Houston Dog Bite Attorney
If you were bitten by someone else’s dog, you can count on Chelsie King Garza, P.C. for strategic legal counsel when taking action in the aftermath. Attorney Garza is a tough, smart, and experienced litigator with a good reputation in her community and in the legal field. To schedule a free case review with a dog bite lawyer in Houston, fill out her Contact Form or call 713-893-8808.