Dog BitesIn Texas, we love our animals. In fact, more than half of Texans own at least one pet, with dogs making up 43 percent of pets in the Lone Star State. While dogs make great pets and most are loving furry family members, some breeds are more susceptible to violent behavior than others. Texas falls among the states with the highest number of dog bites and animal attack claims. While the chances of being seriously injured in a dog attack are low, if you are hurt, it’s important to know your legal options.

Dogs bite humans for many reasons, including feelings of anxiety, fear, being in a bad mood, possession aggression, pain, having a history of abuse, being mistreated, or getting carried away while playing. It is important to remember that all dogs, regardless of breed or size, have the potential to bite. If a dog is behaving aggressively or has vicious tendencies, it is important for the owner to engage a professional to address the behavior.

Dog Bite Laws in Texas

Texas law on dog bites can be confusing, which is just one of the many reasons it is important to consult with a personal injury lawyer if you or someone you care about has been injured by a dog or another animal. While pet bites and animal bites might sound like they aren’t that serious, they can be extremely dangerous and even fatal – especially when they involve minor children. While Texas doesn’t have civil statutes governing dog bite injuries, it has criminal statutes that can hold the owner criminally liable. Despite the lack of statutes on the civil side, robust case law exists and common law has developed enforcing a one bite rule in Texas.

One Bite Rule

Texas does have a “one bite rule,” which means that after a dog’s first attack or biting incident, the owner legally “on notice” of their dog’s aggressive behavior. In order to receive financial compensation after a dog bite, injury victims must prove:

  • The dog’s owner knew or should have known the dog bit someone else previously
  • The dog’s owner knew or should have known the dog acted aggressively toward someone else previously
  • The dog’s owner was negligent in preventing the bite and in controlling their animal
  • The dog owner’s negligence caused the victim’s injuries

Negligence vs. Strict Liability in Austin Dog Bite Cases

Many states have strict liability statutes that govern dog bite injury claims. Texas, however, does not have a strict liability statute. Instead, common law has developed into a “one bite rule” to determine negligence for dog bites.

Fatal Dog Attacks and Common Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bites can range in severity, but some common injuries include puncture wounds, lacerations, and tearing of the skin. In some cases, the bite may also cause bruising or muscle damage. If the bite wound is severe, it may require antibiotics to prevent infection and/or tetanus shots. In some cases, dog bites can result in serious injury or death, particularly if the dog is large or the bite is to the neck or head. The injured party should seek medical attention even if they think their animal attack damages are minor to avoid dangerous infections and other such issues.

Damages Available in Dog Bite Cases

The damages available after being injured by a severe dog bite are personal injury damages, including the cost of medical care or medical treatment – including medical bills – lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and more. In Texas, personal injury damages can also include loss of consortium, if applicable, and punitive damages if the defendant’s actions were particularly reckless or negligent. These damages are intended to punish the responsible party and deter similar behavior in the future.

Compensation Through a Homeowner’s Insurance Policy

If a dog bite victim was injured on someone else’s property and the property owner has a homeowners insurance policy, the victim may be able to seek compensation through the policy. Many homeowners’ insurance policies include coverage for dog bites and other types of personal injury. In order to make a claim, the victim will need to provide evidence of the injury and the circumstances under which it occurred. Such evidence may include medical records, witness statements, and other documentation that shows the responsible parties were negligent and caused the victim’s injuries.

If the homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover the dog bite or the victim was injured on their own property, the victim has other liability options and may still be able to seek compensation through other means, such as by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the dog’s owner or by seeking damages under their own insurance policy if they have one.

Statute of Limitations for Austin Dog Bite Lawsuits

In Texas, the statute of limitations for a lawsuit for a dog bite is two years from the date of the injury. This means a victim has two years from the date of the animal bite to file a lawsuit seeking damages for their injuries. If the victim does not file a lawsuit within this time period, they may be barred from seeking compensation, so it is important to speak with an Austin dog bite attorney to understand the specific time limits that may apply to your particular case and what your legal options are.

Contact Ashley Applewhite for Help with Your Dog Bite Injury Claims

Ashley Applewhite provides a fast free case evaluation for anyone injured by a dog bite in Austin. With years of experience working for insurance providers, she has unique insight into how best to manage dog bite injury claims. Get help today by contacting the law firm for more information on how we can assist you.