According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 4.5 million dog bites occur in the U.S. every year. Nearly 800,000 of those bites require medical attention. An estimated 30 to 35 fatal dog attacks occur annually; 70 percent of those victims are children under 10 years old.
In the State of Texas, a dog bite victim can recover compensation for injury or loss under the cause of action known as negligence. Texas does not have a dog bite statute, meaning it adheres to the “one bite rule.” What does this mean? A victim can recover compensation from the dog’s owner or keeper only if the dog previously bit a person or attempted to and the defendant was aware of the dog’s previous conduct. An exception to this rule exists for known dangerous breeds, like pit bulls, for example. No previous aggression from a dog that is a known dangerous breed is required for there to be negligence.
Critics of Texas dog bite laws argue the “one bite rule” protects owners from liability when a dog bites for the first time. Without a dog bite statute, the burden of proof falls on the victim.
A victim can recover compensation under negligence if “lack of ordinary care” can be proved. For example, an individual who lets a stray dog into a day care center full of children could be proved negligent if that stray dog were to bite a person inside the center. In the case of negligence, the plaintiff must prove:
- The defendant owned or possessed an animal;
- The defendant owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent the animal from injuring others;
- The defendant breached that duty;
- And the defendant’s breach proximately caused injury.
In Texas, a landlord or landowner can also be found liable for failing to remove a known dangerous dog from the property. This law is designed to protect tenants from vicious dogs. In such cases, there is a two-part test: The injury must have occurred in a common area under the control of the landlord; and the landlord must have had actual or imputed knowledge of the particular dog’s vicious nature.
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
If you have been the victim of a dog bite, don’t fight the legal battle alone. You may be entitled to compensation to cover your medical expenses, injury and loss. Work with a personal injury lawyer you can trust to handle your case. Compensation for medical bills can be obtained through the property owner’s homeowner’s insurance. Contact the experienced legal team at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare. We will help you receive all due compensation for your dog bite injury.
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