Unfortunately, dog bites are very common and can cause serious, sometimes permanent, injuries. In addition to physical damage, psychological trauma often occurs and the treatment for all injuries is often very expensive.
Some states, including Texas, do not have dog bite statutes in place so the common law rule also known as the “one-bite rule” comes into play. Victims can also seek recovery from damages under the common law doctrine of negligence.
The “one-bite rule” holds that a victim can recover compensation from the owner of a dog that has previously bitten another person or acted like it wanted to, and that the dog owner was aware of the dog’s dangerous conduct. Under this rule, a dog owner is liable for injuries their dog causes only if they knew or had reason to know their dog had vicious or dangerous propensities.
This rule is not very victim friendly since the burden of proof is on the victim to show the dog owner possessed the knowledge of the dog’s dangerous tendencies. This law shields a dog owner from liability when one of his dogs bites a person for the first time, unless it can be proved that the owner knew that the dog had the propensity to bite people without justification. Dog owners also may be able to escape liability by proving the injured person provoked the injury.
To recover on a negligence claim under Texas law, a dog bite victim must prove four things:
- The defendant owned or possessed the dog who caused the injuries,
- The dog owner owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent the animal from injuring others,
- The dog owner’s conduct breached that societal duty, &
- The breach was the proximate cause for the injuries the victim sustained
The negligence cause of action makes it unnecessary to prove that the dog had previously bitten or acted like it wanted to injure anyone in the past. If a victim can prove that the dog owner acted negligently in caring for the animal, then the owner will be held liable for damages resulting from the attack in the State of Texas.
For more help with a claim or to understand these laws, speak with a Texas dog bite lawyer.