Texas Dog Bite Facts and Information
Any dog owner in the state of Texas or victim of a dog bite in this state should be aware of the legal status of dog bite cases in Texas.
The first, key fact, is that Texas does not have a dog bite statute. Many other states have preset parameters that cover the dog owner’s liability that comes as a result of their animal attacking a human. This means that Texas is considered a “one bite rule” state for personal injury cases as a result of a dog attack.
What does “one bite rule” mean then? Well it means, generally, that the victim of the dog bite must be able to prove that either 1) the dog has bitten someone before, and the owner knew about it or 2) the owner failed to responsibly control the dog. If the victim can prove the owners negligence, or the dog’s history of violence, the injured person can file a claim for damages against the dog’s owner.
When an injured person sues for damages, the case will generally be a civil case, but can a dog-bite case ever turn into a criminal case for the owner? Why yes, yes it can.
Felony Dog Bite Cases
In cases where the dog has caused severe bodily harm or death, the owner may face criminal charges in addition to the civil charges. In the state of Texas a dog owner can be charged with a felony if the court can prove:
- The owner failed to control the dog with “criminal negligence” in a location away from the owner’s property. (If its on your property, and you’ve got some “beware of dog” signage, this may provide some defense).
- The owner knew beforehand that the dog was dangerous
- The resulting attack caused severe injury or death
Common Defenses to Dog Bite Cases
Both of the most common defenses have been touched on here, but they are:
Lack of prior knowledge of dog’s aggression – If the owner truly had never seen signs of aggression, if the dog has never bitten anyone else or caused any damage, the owner can argue that they were not negligent in the control of their dog, because it was considered highly unlikely that the dog would make an attack.
If the bite occurs on the owner’s property, and especially if the victim was trespassing, the court may find that the victim is responsible for some or all of the fault.
At the end of the day, if your dog has aggressive tendencies, its best to keep them on a leash when taking them into a public setting, and keep them out of situations where an incident might occur. Ultimately, as a human, the owner has got to have the dog’s best interest in mind, since the dog is essentially a wild beast.