Dogs are one of the most popular domesticated pets in the country. Millions of people in the United States and hundreds of thousands of people in Texas alone own a dog. Most of the time, these companion animals behave themselves well and present no real threat to the general public.
However, some dogs are vicious or unstable in nature. Other dogs are intentionally mistreated and abused by their owners to produce aggressive behaviors. Whether a dog was a pet who just snapped or was a dog intentionally trained to viciousness, when your family ends up victimized by an aggressive animal, you need to know your rights in the state of Texas.
Texas has a one bite strict liability rule
Every state has its own procedures in place for handling injuries and financial losses related to a dog bite attack. In general, Texas applies what is known as the "one bite rule" to dog bite cases. In other words, the victims typically need to show that the dog has a history of violence or that the owner had reason to believe the dog was a danger to the community.
Many times, a previous bite event will establish this in court. That is where the name of the one bite rule comes from. A dog and its owner will typically not end up in trouble for a first bite, unless there is evidence that the owner knew the dog was a risk prior to the incident.
Every dog, in other words, gets "one free bite" before his or her owner must acknowledge that the animal is vicious and dangerous. After that, the owner becomes liable for any damages the dog causes.
Certain situations can help prove a dog is actually dangerous
If you or your child suffered a severe bite by a domestic dog, and the owner claims the dog never bit before, that doesn't mean you have to pay out-of-pocket for medical care. It may be possible to prove that the owner knew the dog was a potential threat even without a history of biting humans.
Any signs hung on the owner's property advising visitors to beware of the dog or any verbal acknowledgment by the owner, prior to the bite, of the dog's known viciousness could help you build a case for compensation. In some situations, it may also be possible to seek compensation through a homeowners insurance policy even if the dog bite attack would not allow you to file a civil lawsuit in Texas.
There are many different factors which can contribute to your rights in a dog bite situation, including the location of the attack, the severity of the injuries and your behavior immediately prior to the bite. Learning more about Texas law and legal precedent, and dog bite cases, can help you determine if you have a case for compensation.