Consider this scenario: You and your family are taking a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood to enjoy the spring weather. You turn the corner and see a snarling, burly dog lunging at your small child. You instinctively pull your child into your arms and run the other direction, but the dog bites your leg and you fall to the ground. You try to fight the dog off and it continues to lunge at your neck; luckily you are saved by a good samaritan who pulls the dog off, and you wait for animal control and paramedics to arrive. Only when the dog’s microchip is scanned is the owner finally notified of their “missing” dog, who has now attacked two humans in broad daylight. Unfortunately many people are attacked and bitten by dogs everyday, pets whose owners claim could never hurt a fly. Even dogs with pleasant dispositions sometimes act out and bite small children, babies, and other dogs and small pets. Societal attitudes indicate that a dog owner should be responsible for their dog’s actions, but this is not reflected in Texas laws.
What is the One-Bite Rule?
The principle of strict liability dictates that dog owners are liable if their pet (usually dogs) bites or attacks another person or pet. Unfortunately for Texans, the State of Texas does not utilize the principle of strict liability as applied to dog bites. Instead, Texas uses the “one-bite” rule. The one bite rule states that the injured neighbor or passerby must establish that the attacking dog has a propensity for violence and that the dog owner knew or should have known of the dog’s aggressive tendencies. This is a tough standard to overcome, and that is why it is important to contact an attorney after you have been bitten by a dog, even if it is seemingly a minor incident.
Proving a Dog is Aggressive
In order to recover in a court of law, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant’s dog or pet has a propensity toward aggression. The plaintiff does not have to prove that the dog has bitten before, only that the dog has tried to bite in the past and the owner has knowledge of the dog’s intent. This can be difficult unless the plaintiff uses resources to interview neighbors, the dog’s veterinarian or other eyewitnesses. The plaintiff also must establish that the defendant dog owner owes a duty of reasonable care to prevent their dog from causing injuries, that the defendant breached the duty, and the plaintiff subsequently suffered. For example, owners of vicious dogs usually mark their property with warning signs and would use a leash and collar when walking their dog. Letting a dog run loose is dangerous and negligent even if the dog does not have a history of violent behavior.
Contact Wham & Rogers, PLLC Today
If you or a loved one were bitten or injured by a neighbor or stranger’s pet, you do not have to suffer in silence. Dog bites are not trivial, they can cause severe bruising, lacerations, deep cuts that require stitches or are prone to infection, and some people require physical therapy or corrective surgery after a vicious attack. Despite the lack of strict liability not invoked in Texas, plaintiffs do not have an insurmountable case to mount against the defendant dog owner. However, it is critical that if you were severely injured, that you consult with an attorney immediately to review your case options. Our attorneys at Wham & Rogers, PLLC will ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries and pain. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.