Premises Liability Violations
San Antonio Dog Bite Lawyer
Whether you’re visiting a friend, going on a run in the park, or walking in your neighborhood, you might come into contact with someone else’s dog. While this might not be cause for concern, some dogs are untrained or dangerous and can attack people unprovoked. Dog attacks can cause serious injuries, which can make victims miss work, accumulate medical debt, and suffer from a great deal of physical and emotional pain.
If you have been bitten by a dog, San Antonio personal injury lawyers at Janicek Law are here to help. An experienced dog bite lawyer from our team can help you recover compensation from the dog owner responsible for the animal attack. Call us at (210) 366-4949 and receive a free case evaluation from one of the dog bite lawyers on our team.
Texas Dog Bite Laws
Some states have specific laws on the books that outline the legal definition of a dog bite incident, as well as the penalties for dog owners who let their dog attack another person. While there is no specific Texas dog bite law, there are Texas Supreme Court cases, namely Marshall vs. Ranne (1974) and Lewis vs. Great Southwestern Corporation (1971), that set a legal precedent for all dog bite incidents in the state.
Additionally, certain cities have local ordinances that outline the rules and regulations dog owners have to follow. For example, while Texas doesn’t have any statewide leash laws, San Antonio has local pet restraint ordinances, which require all dogs to be confined to the owner’s property at all times unless they are leashed. The ordinance also allows Animal Care Officers to enter unenclosed front yards to impound dogs, even if the yard is private property.
Even without a specific Texas dog bite law, things like the state Health and Safety Code outline how animals should be regulated in order to protect their health and safety, as well as the health and safety of others. Under Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 822, if a dog attacks a person unprovoked, and the dog owner knowingly did not confine the dog, the owner may be charged with “negligent handling of an animal” and may be held liable for damages.
Additionally, if someone has a dog that is considered dangerous, and their dog bites someone, then they will be held to a certain standard in court, also known as “strict liability.” This means that they can be found liable for the victim’s losses, even if they didn’t act in a negligent way.
What is Considered a Dangerous Dog in Texas?
Under Section 822.041 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, a dog is considered to be dangerous if:
- The dog attacks a person unprovoked and causes serious bodily harm; or
- The dog gives a person a reason to believe they would attack and cause serious bodily harm.
These conditions only apply to dogs that are not confined to a secure enclosure.
After a dog bites another person, or after it displays aggressive behavior unprovoked, animal control may investigate the situation. If they determine that the dog is indeed dangerous, they will provide the owner with a written notice that their dog has been classified as dangerous.
When a dog owner learns that their dog is considered dangerous, whether through a dog bite incident or through a written notice, they have 30 days to:
- Register the dog with local animal control;
- Begin to restrain the dog on a leash at all times;
- Obtain liability insurance or prove they can take financial responsibility in a dog bite injury claim; and
- Begin to comply with local ordinances on dangerous dogs.
If they fail to comply with these requirements, they have 30 days to surrender the dog to animal control or their dog can be seized by animal control.
What is The “One Bite Rule” in Texas?
The Texas Supreme Court case Marshall vs. Ranne (1974) set the precedent that dog owners in Texas can be held liable for dog attacks if their dog has knowingly bitten, or has almost bitten, someone in the past. Basically, if a dog has been labeled as dangerous, or if the dog bite injury victim can prove the dog has bitten or almost bit someone in the past, they can sue the dog’s owner for damages.
If the dog has not been previously deemed dangerous, or if the owner did not know their dog was considered dangerous, they may only be held liable for the percent of the attack that was their fault. If the attack victim was determined to be more than 50% at fault for the attack, then the owner may not be liable for any damages at all. However, if the owner did know their dog was dangerous, they can be held liable for all of the damages the dog attack caused.
It can be difficult for victims to prove that the dog has attacked–or almost attacked–someone in the past if the dog was not registered as a dangerous dog. Luckily, a skilled dog bite attorney at Janicek Law can help gather evidence and talk to witnesses, which can help prove that the dog was dangerous and that the owner was liable for your injuries. If you have been attacked by a dog, the legal team at Janicek Law can help you recover compensation for your injuries in a dog bite claim or lawsuit. Call us at (210) 366-4949 and receive a free case evaluation.
Criminal Penalties for Dog Bites in Texas
In addition to being financially liable in any dog bite lawsuits, dog owners can also be held criminally responsible if their dog attacks someone unprovoked. If a dog bites someone and it has not previously been considered dangerous, the pet owner can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor and fined up to $500. However, if the dog owner knew the dog was dangerous, and it attacked someone later down the line, then the dog’s owner can be charged with a third-degree felony and face 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The court may also order that the dog be put down.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
Dog bites happen for a lot of reasons. In many cases, dogs attack humans because they are scared or feel threatened. They can also bite if they are defending their territory or something valuable to them. If a dog attacks a person while defending themselves or their territory, the court may decide that the dog was “provoked.” In dog bite lawsuits, the owner may only be held liable if their dog attacked someone unprovoked.
In some cases, dog owners may train their dogs to attack people on command. Any dog attack can cause serious injuries, so when someone trains their dog to intentionally attack people, the dog owner can be found to be “criminally negligent.” They can be charged with a crime and can also be forced to compensate the victim for damages in a dog bite lawsuit.
Common Types of Dog Bite Injuries
In a dog bite attack, a victim can suffer from a variety of injuries, ranging from minor to severe. Additionally, different dog breeds are capable of different levels of harm. While they can still cause significant injuries, a chihuahua isn’t capable of causing the same amount of damage as a husky. Below are some of the most common types of dog bite injuries.
- Broken bones;
- Puncture wounds;
- Soft tissue damage;
- Nerve damage;
- Rabies and other infections; and
- Emotional distress, which can cause things like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
What To Do After a Dog Bite in Texas
If you have been the victim of a dog bite injury, remain calm and get away from the dog if you can safely do so. If your injuries are significant, you should seek medical attention immediately. A dog attack can cause you to suffer from broken bones, puncture wounds, and more, so seek medical care as soon as you possibly can to prevent further complications like infections.
If you are unable to immediately receive medical care, clean the dog bite injury with soap and water. If you are bleeding, apply pressure to the wound and apply a sterile bandage once the bleeding has slowed or stopped. After that, be sure to see a doctor who can provide you with stitches, antibiotics, or a rabies shot if needed.
If you are able to, gather information related to the attack. This can include the dog owner’s insurance company information, as well as their contact information. Take pictures of the dog, the scene of the attack, and your injuries. If you notice that the dog escaped from the owner’s yard through a broken fence or open gate, be sure to take pictures of that as well. After the attack, you should also report the bite to your local animal control.
Once you’ve received medical treatment and gathered what information you could regarding the attack, you should call a dog bite attorney at Janicek Law. A dog bite lawyer at our law firm can help you file an insurance claim to receive fair compensation for your injuries. They can even prove that the dog owner was negligent in a dog bite lawsuit.
Can You Sue a Dog Owner for a Dog Bite Injury in Texas?
Yes, if you have been bitten by a dog unprovoked, you can file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner to recover compensation. Dog bite victims can hold negligent dog owners liable for the damages their dog caused, simply because the owner failed to properly train the dog or confine it to their property. Dog bite lawsuits can even hold the dog owner responsible for emotional trauma, such as emotional distress and PTSD.
In some dog bite cases, victims only have to prove strict liability. In the context of dog attacks, this means that they have to prove the dog has attacked someone before and has been labeled as dangerous. This can be easy to prove if the owner has received written notification from the court or from animal control stating that their dog was deemed to be dangerous.
In other dog bite cases, the victim has to prove that the dog owner was negligent in some way. For example, if the dog escaped from an enclosed yard and bit someone, the dog bite victim may have to prove that the dog owner knew that their yard was not secure, but still let their dog out into the yard unsupervised or unrestrained.
Negligence can be incredibly difficult to prove unless you have an experienced lawyer on your side to help. Our San Antonio dog bite lawyers understand the laws surrounding animal attacks in Texas, as well as the possible defenses the owner may use, and will be able to develop a strong case against the dog owner. Our attorneys can also negotiate with the dog owner’s insurance company to help ensure you receive fair compensation in a settlement.
If you have been the victim of a dog attack, call the personal injury and premises liability lawyers at Janicek Law. With over 20 years of experience, you can rest assured that your dog bite case is in capable hands. Call us at (210) 366-4949 to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.
Damages for Dog Bite Injuries
If someone is bitten by a dog and the pet owner is found to be negligent, dog attack victims can recover compensation for:
- Past and future medical bills;
- Lost wages;
- Lost earning ability;
- Scarring, disability, or disfigurement;
- Physical pain and suffering; and
- Emotional distress.
Texas Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Claims
Like all personal injury cases, a person has a limited amount of time to file a dog bite claim if they want to receive compensation. In Texas, the dog bite statute of limitations is two years from the date of the attack. If you have been attacked by a dog within the past two years, call a San Antonio dog bite lawyer as soon as you can. They will make sure you are able to file an insurance claim or lawsuit against the dog owner within that window of time.