Houston, Texas—Dog Bite Law

Dog Bite Law in Texas

Houston Texas Dog Bite Lawyer Rick Molina - Original ArtMost people love dogs. Dogs make great pets. People have historically formed emotional and long-lasting bonds with dogs. However, dog bites do happen and for that reason a Texas dog bite law exists.

If you have been the victim of a dog bite in Texas, there are certain rights that you have under the law. This article will outline some of those rights and what you can do if they are violated. If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a dog bite in Texas, it is important to speak with an experienced dog bite injury lawyer as soon as possible.

After a dog bite, finding the dog owner and getting medical care are your main concerns. Sometimes, the dog is a stray, or otherwise has no known owner. You may know the dog or at least know where you can find the owner. Finding the owner will help you to determine the vaccination history of the dog and this will help you to determine what medical care you need.

In Texas, a dog owner includes the legal owner. Importantly, a dog owner also includes a person that has custody or control of the dog. In evaluating whether you have a dog bite claim, Molina Law Firm will evaluate all legal owners involved in the claim as well as all people that controlled the dog at the time of the dog attack.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

You may be interested in these few short questions and answers.  More explanation is found in the article below.

1. How much time do I have to file my dog bite claim in court?

In Texas, you have two (2) years to file your dog bite claim in court.

2. I have been bitten by an unknown dog. How do I find the owner?

Finding the owner of a dog that you do not know can be troublesome and tedious.  You can start by talking to neighbors and witnesses.  You should also call your local animal control and the local police.   At the Molina Law Firm, we also help our clients in this process. 

3. I have tried to work out my dog bite claim with the dog owner, but the dog owner had ignored me. What should I do?

In Texas, there are rules that dog owners should follow when there is a dog bite.  You should call Molina Law Firm to help you analyze your situation.  You can also call your local animal control and your local police department.

4. Can I recover damages for my medical bills that were caused by a dog bite?

Medical bills caused by dog bite can be recovered. Also, future medical bills such as future care or future surgery bills can also be recovered.

Dog Bite Facts

Houston, Texas has many dog bites. Dog bites reported to the Harris County Veterinary Public Health (HCVPH) between January 1, 2013, and December 31, 2016, were analyzed in this a study. Dog and victim characteristics and bite circumstances were evaluated to establish risk factors for bites.  

The results of the study show that 6683 dog bites reported to HCVPH between the years of 2013 and 2016.  The incidence was highest for both children and older adults.  The results show that dogs usually attack children and older adults more frequently than other segments of the population. Dogs with the primary breed of Pit Bull had the greatest frequency of bites (25.07%), with the second highest breed being Labrador Retrievers (13.72%). Bites were more common from intact dogs of both genders, especially from intact males. Persons aged 70+ had the greatest incidence of severe injury (14.09/100,000). A strong correlation between dog bite incidences and stray dogs was found after controlling for the human population and income.

Dog Bite Liability

In Texas, a dog bite victim may recover under different theories of recovery, which are discussed below.  The primary theories of recovery include the Texas “one bite rule” and negligence.

“One Bite” Rule

In Texas, the “one bite rule” applies to dog bites. This means that the dog’s owner is only liable for a dog bite if the victim can prove that the owner knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous.   Has the dog bitten someone before?  Has the dog tried to bite someone before?  Has the dog shown aggressive behavior before?  Did the owner know of the dog’s aggressive behavior?  This can be difficult to do, especially if the dog has never bitten anyone before.  You and your lawyer may need to speak with the owner and neighbors to investigate the dog’s past behavior.

Negligence

Dogs are considered man’s best friend, but when they attack and injure people, the results can be devastating. In Texas, dog owners can be held liable for their pet’s actions, even if the animal has never bitten anyone before. If a victim can prove that the owner was negligent in some way, they may be able to receive compensation for their injuries.

For example, if a dog is known to be aggressive and the owner does nothing to prevent it from attacking someone, they could be held liable. In addition, owners are responsible for keeping their dogs under control at all times, whether the animal is on or off of their property. If a dog gets loose and injures someone, the owner could be held liable.

Sometimes, dog bite cases involve issues of comparative negligence.  Comparative negligence can be raised by the dog owners when the owner says that the dog bit the victim only because the dog was un-necessarily provoked.  If the court or jury find any fault on the victim, then the victim’s damages can be reduced by his percentage of responsibility.  For example, if you are awarded $100 for a dog attack, but the jury determines you were 10% at fault then you would only receive $90 after the 10% for your own negligence.

It is important to note that in Texas you will not receive any compensation if you were more than 50% at fault.  If a court or jury find that you were the majority at fault in the dog bite then you will not receive any compensation as a result of the bite.

When a dog attacks a child, the child often get major head, eye, ear, facial, and neck injuries due to their size. In general, children under the age of six (6) cannot be ruled negligent. Some people assume that children cannot be held liable in any way, yet everybody beyond the age of six is subject to certain standards of responsibility. A court may also rule that a child under the age of six is comparably negligent if the child was aware of the potential repercussions of their behavior.

Negligence Per Se

Negligence per se occurs when a dog owner violates a Texas statute or local ordinance and the violation proximately causes the victim’s injuries.   For example, were local leash laws violated?  In Texas, a dog bite victim can assert negligent per se theories of recovery in addition to the other theories discussed above.

Strict Liability

In Texas, strict liability means that the owner of the dog is responsible for any injuries their dog causes, regardless of whether or not the owner knew their dog was dangerous.  This theory of recovery applies to certain types of dogs such as pitbulls and other inherently dangerous dogs.  There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as if the victim was trespassing on private property or committing a crime at the time of the attack.

This law can be helpful for victims of dog bites, as they don’t have to prove that the owner was negligent in order to receive compensation. However, it can also be difficult for owners who have to pay out large settlements for damages caused by their dogs.  

Dog Bite Damages

After a dog bite victim proves a theory of recovery, a dog bite victim will be entitled to certain damages.   Damages resulting from a dog bite vary from person to person.  Damages can include scarring, punctures, cuts, amputations, bruises, broken bones, medical bills, loss of wages, physical disfigurement, and pain and suffering.  In extreme cases, dog attacks can even result in death.   

Permanent scars that result from dog bits are common.  Many times, plastic surgery is necessary is minimize the scars.  These scars can also have long-lasting psychological effects.  These scars also are components to any damages that are presented to the people responsible for the dog attack. 

How to Avoid Dog Bites

Sometimes, it’s impossible to avoid a dog attack.  For example, joggers and people walking at the park are often unexpectedly attacked.   Pit Bulls are known for unexpected attacks. Here some things to consider to try to avoid dog bites: 

–Avoid going near stray dogs.

–Avoid dogs that you do not know.

–Do not provoke dogs.

–Do not leave a child alone with a dog.

Do I Need a Lawyer for my Dog Bite?

Call Molina Law Firm if a dog bit you or your loved one, and the owner was to blame. We will help you understand Texas’ one bite rule and the other theories of recovery.   It is usually beneficial to start the investigation as soon as possible, since the dog owner and his/her insurance company are already doing their own investigation.   It is important to remember that you have two years from the dog bite to file a court case for your dog bite injuries.

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