Dog Bites and Liability in Texas

If you’re in Texas and you’re wondering what sort of legal systems and doctrines cover dog bites, this article will provide some further insight.

Even though dogs are considered man’s best friend, there are still situations in which a negligent owner or a poorly trained dog can lead to a serious injury resulting from a bite. There are options available to you for pursuing legal actions.

Texas and the “One-Bite Rule”

Texas has two avenues in which a person can pursue compensation for an injury arising from a dog bite. An injured party may rely on the “One-bite rule,” or they may attempt to prove the owner of the dog was acting negligently.

The one-bite rule states that a victim may be able to seek compensation for an injury caused by a dog if the owner of the dog exhibited previous cases of biting people and if the owner was aware of this behavior. Both conditions must be met in order for an injured party to rely on the one-bite rule.

In the case of a dog that is considered non-vicious, a victim still has legal recourse if they can prove the dog owner was acting negligently. If the injured party can prove four elements of negligence, they may be able to move forward with a claim for personal injury.

The four elements in the case of a dog bite are:

1. The defendant owned or cared for the dog;
2. The defendant had a duty to exercise reasonable care in preventing the dog from injuring others;
3. The defendant breached this duty; and
4. The breach of duty proximately caused your injuries.

Criminal Conduct

In certain circumstances, a dog owner could be charged with a criminal violation on top of the civil liability. A criminal violation is a situation in which the State of Texas itself is attempting to punish the party responsible for the dog bite. Part of a criminal case may involve victim restitution. A civil case, however, takes place in a civil court and is between the injured party and the party responsible for causing the injury. These civil cases are where injured people may pursue compensation for their injuries.

In order for probable cause to exist for a law enforcement officer to charge someone criminally in the event of a dog bite, there are numerous conditions that must exist. Probable cause is defined as facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonable and prudent person to believe that a crime has been committed.

An officer must discover these elements through the course of their investigation in order for a person to be charged criminally. The elements would require that a person, with criminal negligence, fails to secure the dog and the dog makes an unprovoked attack on another person. This attack would have to occur in a place other than the owner’s property, it must also cause serious bodily injury or death.

Additionally, if the dog owner is aware that their dog is dangerous and the dog makes an unprovoked attack outside the owner’s property, and that attack causes serious bodily injury or death, they may be charged criminally.

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Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws they may affect a case.

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