It’s important to be familiar with the Texas dog bite laws in case you’re ever the victim of a dog attack. Like several states, Texas follows the one bite rule regarding dog attacks. However, this law can be confusing for those suffering from dog attack injuries who want compensation for damages.
At Janicek Law, our attorneys have experience handling dog bite cases and have extensive knowledge surrounding the one bite rule as well as other Texas dog bite laws. In our latest blog post, our legal team will explain the one-bite rule and your legal rights following a dog attack in Texas.
What is Considered a Dangerous Dog in Texas?
Texas Health and Safety Code Section 822.041 provides the definition and laws regarding dangerous dogs. According to this statute, a dangerous dog is one that:
- Attacks a person unprovoked, leading to serious bodily injury or
- The dog’s vicious propensities led a competent person to believe that the dog would attack them.
Under this Texas Law, there are three ways a dog can be considered dangerous:
- The dog owner is aware they have attacked someone,
- The owner has received a notice from the court stating they believe their dog is dangerous or
- Animal control has informed the dog owner the dog is considered dangerous.
What is the “One Bite” Rule?
The one bite rule states the dog’s owner is responsible if they were aware or should have been aware that the dog may act in a harmful or dangerous way. The term “one bite” comes from the idea that a dog gets one free pass or one free bite. After the dog’s free pass, the owner will be responsible for paying medical bills and other expenses incurred from any future dog bites on the dog owner’s property, private property, or public property.
If there is a local leash law and the dog is not properly restrained, animal control may consider the dog dangerous.
Does Texas Follow the One Bite Rule?
Texas is one of 16 states that follow the one bite rule. States that adhere to the one bite rule protect dog owners from liability unless it’s proven that the dog owner acted negligently or their intentional behavior led to the dog attack.
The one bite rule in Texas dates back to 1974 when Paul Marshall sued John Ranne, a local hog farmer. Marshall sued Ranne to recover damages for injuries caused by Ranne’s hogs that had escaped. During the trial, Ranne admitted to knowing the hog was dangerous because the animal had charged at him and his wife on prior occasions. However, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ranne, stating that Marshall put himself in harm’s way, leading to the attack.
In order to have a successful dog bite claim in Texas, the dog bite victim must prove:
- The dog’s owner knew about the dog’s aggressive tendencies or had previously bitten someone or
- The dog’s owner failed to exercise reasonable care to control the dog or prevent the bite, leading to the victim being bitten.
The Texas dog bite laws can be complicated, which is why it’s important to work with a San Antonio attorney with experience in animal control law. At Janicek Law, our personal injury attorneys have handled numerous dog bite claims and are prepared to represent you. To learn more about your legal options following a dog attack, call our San Antonio dog bite attorneys today.
Criminal Consequences for Dog Bites in Texas
According to Texas Health and Safety Code Section 822.005, a dog owner can face felony criminal penalties if:
- Under criminal negligence, they do not secure the dog and the dog attacks another person (unprovoked) at a location away from the owner’s property, or
- The owner is aware the animal is considered a “dangerous dog,” and the dog attacks another person at a location other than a secure enclosure where the dog was restrained, according to Texas law, and
- Either of the situations described above led to serious injuries or death.
Can You Sue a Dog Owner for a Dog Bite in Texas?
Yes, there are two ways that a dog bite victim can file a claim.
- Negligence: For this type of claim, the victim must show that the dog’s owner or person responsible for the dog’s care acted negligently, which caused the victim’s injuries. The negligent actions can be improperly restraining the dog, poorly training the dog, or not intervening while the attack occurred.
- Strict liability: For a strict liability claim, the victim must prove the dog’s owner was aware of the animal’s history of aggression or biting and failed to keep it away from others.
Possible Defenses to a Dog Bite Claim
There are many defense strategies that a dog owner’s attorney can use when fighting against a dog bite claim. The following defenses for Texas dog bite cases are:
- The person attacked was in the process of committing a crime, like a sexual offense, kidnapping, homicide, burglary, property damage, or criminal trespass.
- The person is employed by a criminal justice department or another similar agency that is training the dog at the time of the attack.
- The person is a peace officer, veterinarian, veterinary clinic employee, dog trainer, employee of a guard dog company, employee of an animal shelter, or person employed by the state to handle stray animals and has temporary ownership, control, or custody of the dog.
- The dog was on a leash during the attack, and the person was trying to regain control of the dog.
- The person has a disability, and the dog is trained to assist someone with a disability. The person was using the dog for assistance in conjunction with their disability.
If the dog attack occurred during the three following scenarios, the dog bite owner could have an affirmative defense.
- The person and dog were participating in an organized event or dog show sponsored by a recognized kennel club.
- The person and dog were participating in an organized search and rescue effort with law enforcement.
- The person and dog were lawfully hunting or performing ranching or farming activities.
Why You Need a San Antonio Dog Bite Lawyer On Your Side
A Texas dog bite case can be challenging for attack victims to recover damages for their injuries. The experienced dog bite attorneys at Janicek Law will work with you to help determine the dog owner’s negligent actions that led to your injuries.
With the Texas one bite rule, your legal team must prove the dog owner was aware that their animal was aggressive and failed to take precautions to protect others from harm. One way your attorney can help establish the owner knew of violent tendencies is if the dog was trained to attack or was considered a guard dog. If the dog is a breed like a pit bull, the owner should also be aware of violent tendencies.
An animal attack victim can also show an owner was aware of their pet’s aggressiveness if they’ve received previous complaints about their behavior or warned others that their animal may cause harm. Both of these scenarios show that an owner was aware their animal was dangerous and could potentially harm another.
Your Texas dog bite attorney from Janicek Law will gather evidence supporting your dog bite claim. Your legal team may interview witnesses or others who have suffered injuries from the animal. Other evidence can include police reports regarding the animal and other official documentation showing the owner was notified of the animal’s aggressive nature.
Damages for Dog Bites
The dog bite attorneys from Janicek Law will work diligently to help you recover the following compensation:
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Emotional distress
- Property damage
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
- In severe cases, wrongful death damages
Call San Antonio Dog Bite Lawyers at Janicek Law Today
If you were bitten by a dog in Texas, don’t let the one bite rule deter you from pursuing legal action against the dog’s owner. There are still ways that you can recover damages and hold the owner responsible for their negligent actions. To discuss your case with one of our experienced dog bite attorneys, call Janicek Law at 210-366-4949 to schedule a free consultation today.