by Tim O’Hare
Each year, there are more than 4.5 million dog bites in the United States, and nearly 800,000 of those require medical attention. Tragically, about 30 to 35 people will die from a dog attack each year. Last year, 42 people were killed by dog bites, 20 of these victims were children.
Texas does not have a dog bite statute, but instead adheres to the “one bite rule” when it comes to dog bites. What does this mean? A dog bite victim can recover compensation from the owner, harborer, or keeper of the dog if: the dog previously bit a person or acted like it wanted to; or if the defendant was aware of the dog’s previous conduct. If one of those two conditions is not met, the victim of a dog bite cannot collect compensation from the owner under this doctrine.
What happens if the dog bites or attacks and has never done so before? A victim of a dog bite can recover compensation due to negligence—the absence of care a reasonably prudent person would exercise. For example, allowing a stray dog to wander into a day care center would be considered negligent. Under negligence law, the dog bite victim does not have to prove that the dog previously bit a person or acted like it wanted to. Another example would be if a fence is not properly secure, allowing a dog to get out of its yard.
To recover compensation from a dog bite on the grounds of negligence, a plaintiff must prove: the defendant owned or was in possession of the animal; the defendant had a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent the animal from injuring a person; that the defendant breached that duty; and that the defendant’s breach of duty caused the dog bite injury to occur. In Texas, violation of an animal control law—such as not keeping a dog on a leash—can result in liability and constitute negligence on the part of the violator. If this is the case, the plaintiff must prove that the violation was the cause of the injury.
The above explanations are not all-inclusive regarding Texas dog laws, but are rather a general overview of the laws. For example, some animals are known to be inherently dangerous, and the one-bite rule doesn’t apply in these situations. If you or a loved one is the victim of a dog bite or other kind of animal attack, contact a personal injury attorney who has knowledge of and understands the full extent of Texas laws as they apply to injuries by a dog.
While only a small fraction of dog bites end in death, one death from a dog bite or dog attack is one too many.
Prevent becoming a dog bite victim
You may be able to prevent being the victim of a dog bite. Follow these safety tips:
• Never treat a dog unkindly.
• Don’t bother a dog who is busy.
• Don’t approach a dog you don’t know.
• Always be calm around dogs.
If a stray dog approaches you, stay calm and quiet.The attorneys at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare know how to deal with dog bites and other dangerous animal cases and will work to maximize your recovery. Laws protecting dog bite victims can be challenging, so you need an experienced attorney who understands the laws specific to your case. If you have been the victim of a dog bite, don’t fight the legal battle alone. Contact the experienced legal team at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare. We will fight hard for you to make sure you receive the financial recovery you deserve.
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