Yes, you can sue for a dog bite in Texas in many cases. You may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the dog’s owner or other responsible parties after being bitten or attacked by a dog. However, there are some situations in which the case may not stand, and you may be left to seek compensation for your injuries from other sources.
What Are Texas’s Dog Bite Laws?
Texas is considered a “one-bite state” based on the 1974 Texas Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Marshall v. Ranne. The term “one-bite state” means that a dog owner may not be held liable for a dog bite or attack if the dog has no known history of biting or unprovoked aggression.
Though the judge, in this case, ruled that Texas abides by the one-bite rule, there are no civil statutes to back it up. So, if you’ve been injured by a dog bite or other dog attack, you can still hold the dog’s owner accountable if you can prove negligence.
In addition to civil liability, dog owners may also face criminal liability for bites and attacks from dangerous dogs per Texas Health and Safety Code Section 822.005. Under this code, dogs may be considered dangerous dogs if they have:
- Bitten or attacked a person and caused bodily injury while not properly contained
- Acted in an aggressive way, unprovoked, while not properly contained, causing a person to feel as if they were to be attacked
A dangerous dog does not always refer to dogs of certain breeds that are considered more aggressive than others. Any dog can bite or attack someone or another pet, no matter the breed.
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Who Can Be Held Liable for a Dog Bite?
The party or parties we can hold responsible for your dog bite or dog attack depends on the unique facts of your incident. Some people that may be held liable for a dog bite include:
- A dog’s owner
- A dog’s caretaker or walker
- A landlord
For dog bites that occur at the owner’s home, the owner is typically held responsible for the attack. Dog bites on a rented property may see the dog’s owner and the property owner held responsible, especially if the landlord or property management company approved the dog to live on the premises. If a dog bites or attacks you while the dog is on a walk, the person walking the dog may be held responsible, even if it’s not the dog’s owner.
You may also be able to file a claim and recover compensation if your dog or other pet is injured or killed during a dog attack.
Types of Dog Bite Claims
Under Texas’s one-bite rule, you can file a dog bite claim when you can prove negligence or strict liability. Proving negligence or strict liability will depend on the facts of your case.
Negligence in Dog Bite Claims
To prove negligence, your lawyer must show that the dog’s owner or caretaker failed to use reasonable care to prevent the attack, which resulted in the dog biting you. Reasonable care includes:
- Restraining the dog
- Securing the dog in a safe enclosure
- Properly training the dog
- Intervening to prevent the dog from attacking
Strict Liability Dog Bite Claims
To prove strict liability, your lawyer will demonstrate that the owner or caretaker knew about the dog’s previous history of biting or aggression and failed to keep the dog away from others.
Both negligence and strict liability claims can apply to non-bite injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, neck or back injury, or another impact injury from being knocked down during an attack.
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Getting Compensation for Your Dog Bite Injuries
After a dog bite in Texas, you may be able to seek compensation from more than one source. Because of the one-bite ruling in Texas, you can hold more than one person or entity accountable for your dog bite injuries. You can receive compensation from multiple sources, including:
- Homeowner’s insurance policy: If the dog owner is found negligent or strictly liable, you could file a claim to recover compensation with their homeowner’s insurance policy. Most policies include coverage for bodily injury and pet incidents. You may also file a personal injury lawsuit if the settlement isn’t adequate.
- Renter’s insurance policy: A dog owner who rents their property may also have bodily injury and pet incident coverage from which you may recover compensation.
- Personal health insurance: You may be able to get your incident-related medical costs covered by your personal health insurance coverage. However, not all insurance plans cover all treatments.
- Property liability insurance: Landlords and property owners who rent to tenants are often required to hold liability insurance for incidents on their property. If you’re bitten or attacked by a dog who lives in a rental home or rental community, you may file a claim through the landlord’s or management company’s liability insurance policy. Homeowners’ associations that approve of certain animals may be held liable, too.
If the dog owner doesn’t have any insurance, you may not be able to seek compensation through an insurance policy. That’s why it’s important to contact a Texas dog bite attorney to determine all possible avenues through which you can recover compensation.
How Statute of Limitations Applies in Dog Bite Cases
Dog bites and attacks typically fall under personal injury law. Therefore, Texas’s statute of limitations for personal injury suits applies to dog bite cases. Per Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003, you have two (2) years from the date of the incident to file a personal injury lawsuit and try to recover compensation that way.
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Our Dog Bite Lawyers Can Take Your Case
At Underwood Law Office, we know how devastating and painful a dog bite or attack can be. That’s why we’re dedicated to helping you navigate the process of filing a claim or personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for your injuries. Contact our office today for a free case evaluation to see what damages you can recover.