Posted on Thursday, February 22nd, 2018 at 7:05 pm
Dogs can be vicious at times and may attack suddenly without any provocation. Small children and babies are particularly at risk, especially because they may seek to play with, or interact with, a dog without understanding the potential risks. Even dogs that are familiar to small children may bite or attack the child.
If you, or a child in your family is attacked by a dog and you are injured, your first priority is to prevent any further injury and seek medical attention. If at all possible, make a mental note of the dog’s identifiable features if you are not familiar with it. This might include its size, shape, breed, color, tail size, how the attack took place and whether the dog had any tag, collar or leash attached. If you have a cell phone, tablet or camera and get the chance, take a photo of the dog and check whether there was anyone who might have witnessed the attack.
Dog bites can be serious and you may be entitled to seek compensation from the dog’s owner. If the dog’s owner was liable for the attack you may be able to seek compensation for medical treatment, lost earnings if any and other damages such as pain and suffering.
It is important to establish the rules that govern dog bite injuries in Texas. It is best to contact an experienced dog bite attorney if you are bitten by a dog in or around McAllen. The attorney can assess the chances of success if you opt for a personal injury claim against the owner. It can be difficult proving liability in Texas in dog bite cases because of state dog bite legislation, so it would be hard, if not impossible, to get a satisfactory outcome if you did not have effective legal assistance.
Texas legislation on dog bites
Texas does not have a specific law on dog bite attacks, like some other states. In California, for example, there is a strict liability dog bite statute that makes the dog owner liable for any injuries caused by his or her dog, except in certain circumstances such as prior provocation. This doesn’t mean that you cannot sue a dog owner in Texas, but the legal situation does make it a bit more difficult than in a strict liability state.
Dog bite liability in Texas is due to other statutes which concern, but are not limited to dog bites. Basically, dog owners are considered liable for a dog bite injury inflicted on someone else if they can be proven to have either:
- had previous knowledge or experience of their dog behaving aggressively towards another person; or
- behaved negligently with regard to their dog and this negligence can be proven to have caused the attack to have taken place.
The one bite law – previous knowledge may make the owner liable
Dog bite law in Texas and other states that have similar legislation is sometimes referred to as the “one bite rule,” although this is an informal expression and in fact there is no actual law in Texas that has this name. The expression refers to the fact that liability may be involved if the dog’s owner knew that his or her dog had bitten someone else once before.
There are exclusions to the one bite law. The dog’s owner cannot be held responsible if the dog is provoked by the person who is ultimately bitten. If the dog is taunted or teased, for instance, and it is this behavior that has caused the dog to attack then this may invalidate a personal injury claim against the owner.
If the dog bite takes place on the dog owner’s private property and the victim did not have permission to be present there, then the owner may not be liable even if the dog was known to be aggressive.
These are common defenses that a dog owner may make if confronted by a personal injury claim and can be hard to prove false if there are no other witnesses to confirm your side of the story.
Examples of negligence by the dog’s owner
If the dog’s owner was negligent, then the owner may be liable for any attacks that have taken place. Negligence can also be hard to prove, but in many cases is obvious. For example, if the dog is taken for a walk in a park where all dogs are required to be on a leash or are prohibited, the owner would be considered liable if the dog was allowed to run free.
If you are injured by a dog in the McAllen or San Antonio areas and believe that the owner was liable, you should make an appointment with a personal injury attorney at the Patino Law Firm to discuss your legal options. Contact one of our attorneys at 956-631-3535.