Texas is the nation’s leader for fatal dog attacks. Dog attacks resulted in 34 fatalities in Texas between 2005 and 2013, most of which affected children under 11 years old. Serious dog attacks can lead to permanent disfigurement, long-lasting emotional damage, and wrongful death. Victims of dog bites in Texas have a number of legal actions available to them against owners who are negligent in the care of their pets, violate animal control laws, or fail to stop or prevent a dog attack.
Texas Dog Bite Laws
Unlike many other states, Texas does not have a dog bite statute. It does, however, adhere to the One Bite Rule. Under this rule, if the dog has bitten or tried to bite someone, the owners can be held responsible for the dog’s actions: they had reason to know the dog had violent tendencies but did not take proper precaution to prevent an attack. Since Texas has no dog bite statute, the One Bite Rule always comes into play during dog bite cases.
An owner can escape liability if he or she proves that the bitten victim provoked the dog into attacking. For example, if the victim was trespassing with the knowledge that the property has a dog or if the victim was antagonizing the dog on purpose, the courts may find the victim fully or partially responsible.
Despite its name, the One Bite Rule does not have to apply to a previous dog bite. Even if a dog has never bitten anyone, showing signs of aggressive behavior may be enough for the courts to allocate fault with the dog owner. If the owner knew about dangerous tendencies, he or she can be held liable for a victim’s injuries. It is not enough for a victim to prove the owner knew about the dog’s aggressiveness, however—the victim must also prove that the owner failed to take reasonable care to prevent or control a bite.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Dog bite injuries are often traumatic in nature, as many aggressive dogs attack their victims’ face, neck, and chest regions. Sadly, children account for the majority of dog bite fatalities in Texas and beyond. Children often do not know how to act appropriately around dogs, especially canines who are eating or have triggers. Because children are so small and vulnerable, these injuries are generally severe or fatal.
Dog bites can result in puncture wounds, lacerations, fractured bones, infections, and other traumatic injuries. Aside from physical wounds, dog bites can also cause post-traumatic stress disorder, fear of dogs, fear of the outdoors, and other emotional injuries.
How to Prove Negligence in a Dog Bite Case
Some dog bite incidents occur out of the blue with a family dog that has never exhibited signs of dangerous behavior in the past. However, owners who were aware of their dogs’ aggressive tendencies could have reasonably prevented most dog attacks. If an owner knows a dog has “triggers,” such as loud noises or strangers entering the home, he or she is legally obligated to take steps toward preventing an attack.
When a dog bites someone, a dog bite lawyer must investigate the case in detail. This includes gathering background information on the dog and the owners. A skilled dog bite lawyer knows how to navigate state and federal dog bite laws, including the One Bite Law, to the victim’s best advantage.
Let Us Represent Your Dog Bite Case
If you need legal representation in a dog bite case, seek help from our experienced dog bite attorneys. Our Fort Hood personal injury lawyers have represented dog bite victims in court and know how to conduct a proper investigation into a dog bite case. Contact us for a free case evaluation.