Man walking his dog in park

Dog bites can happen with any breed of any size, and many attacks are the result of the dog owner’s negligence. This means that in many cases, the dog bite was preventable.

Dogs are beloved animals and are often considered a member of the family. Studies have shown dogs can decrease stress, improve our health, and are companions for our children. But sometimes they bite, which can cause nerve damage, infections, and sometimes, death.

What Is The One Bite Rule In Texas?

Texas follows the “one bite” rule. Under this rule a dog bite victim may be able to recover monetary damages from the dog’s owners for his or her injuries and damages provided the following is proven:

  • the dog previously bit a person or acted as if it wanted to, and
  • the dog’s owner was aware of the dog’s previous vicious conduct.

If neither of these conditions are met, the dog bite victim will not be able to recover from the dog’s owner.

Can I Sue A Dog’s Owner In Houston, TX For Negligence?

Texas permits a dog bite victim to recover compensation from an owner for negligence. Under Texas law, negligence is when a person fails to act as a reasonably prudent and careful person would have acted in the same or similar circumstances. Examples of negligence include:

  • allowing your aggressive dog to run free
  • failing to take precautions to shield others from an aggressive dog
  • failing to properly secure your dog

To recover compensation from a dog’s owner for negligence, you must prove all of the following:

  • the defendant owned or possessed it
  • the defendant owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent the animal from injuring others
  • the defendant breached that duty; and
  • the defendant’s breach proximately caused the plaintiff’s injury. 

Texas’s negligence rule also applies to other types of injuries caused by dogs or animals. For example, if a dog jumps on an older adult, knocks them down, and causes an injury, the injured person may bring a claim for damages against the dog’s owner. However, it must be proven that the dog’s owner knew the dog was aggressive or that the owner failed to use reasonable care to prevent the dog from causing harm to others.

What Is Strict Liability For A Dog Owner In Houston, TX?

Strict liability means liability without having to show actual negligence or the intent to harm.  In Texas, courts may apply a strict liability rule in cases where the dog is known to be “vicious, dangerous, or mischievous” and the bite resulted from the dog’s known nature.

If a dog has bitten someone before, that dog may be classified as a dangerous dog regardless if the bite caused serious harm. As such, strict liability means if a dangerous dog caused a person’s injury, the dog bite victim would not have to demonstrate the dog’s owner also failed to use reasonable care to restrain the dog. The injured person would be able to recover damages by demonstrating the dog was known to be “vicious, dangerous, or mischievous.”

Common Causes Of Dog Bites

Dogs bite for a number of reasons. Some common causes of dog bites include:

  • Stress
  • Fear
  • New person
  • Feeling threatened
  • Protection of territory
  • Protection of owner
  • Sickness
  • Abuse

What Do I Do After A Dog Bite?

  • Immediately wash the wound with soap and water
  • Seek medical attention, especially if the wound becomes red, painful, warm or swollen
  • Get information about the dog and dog owner
  • Report the bite to your animal control agency or police department
  • Take photographs of the dog, the scene, and your injuries

Is There A Time Limit To File A Dog Bite Injury Claim?

A statute of limitation is a law that prevents someone from beginning a lawsuit after a certain period of time has passed. For example, if you were attacked by a dog four years ago and decided to file a lawsuit today for your injuries sustained in that incident, you would be precluded from doing so. In Texas, if you were injured as a result of a dog bite or animal attack, you have two years from the date of the incident to timely file your claim and pursue compensation.

Helping Dog Bite Victims In Houston, TX.

The lawyers at Hernandez Sunosky, LLP. fight to hold irresponsible dog owners responsible for injuries caused by their pets. Call 713.981.4100 to talk to a Houston, TX dog bite lawyer about your legal options.