The average dog is a friendly companion who can offer love, entertainment, opportunity for exercise and even protection. Unfortunately, like humans, dogs come in a variety of temperaments and backgrounds.
Some dogs have mental health deficiencies that may make them more likely to suddenly become aggressive. Other animals may have had a difficult or abusive upbringing that inclines them toward violence in certain situations.
When you or someone you love gets attacked and bitten by a dog, the consequences of that experience can last for years. Understanding your rights under Texas law can help you make the right decisions in the wake of a violent dog bite attack.
Texas law generally gives dogs one free bite
Every state has its own approach to owner liability in dog bite cases. Like most states, Texas does not hold owners responsible for injuries caused by dogs if the person who gets bitten was trespassing or otherwise breaking the law at the time of the attack. In most other cases, the owner may be liable for damages.
However, the state of Texas requires that the owner should have reason to believe the dog is vicious or dangerous. This rule, called the "one bite rule," means that a dog owner may not be legally responsible if there is no proof that their dog has bitten someone before the current incident.
However, there are certain situations in which you can still take action against a dog's owner if there is no record of a previous bite. Just because a dog doesn't have an official record of viciousness doesn't mean that the owner wasn't aware of the potential risk it poses to the public.
Signs on the owner's property or social media posts can help your case
It is sometimes possible, in certain situations, to demonstrate to the Texas courts that the owner of a dog knew it likely posed a risk to the general public. Those situations include the owner posting signage about their dog on their house. Any "beware of dog" or similar signs indicate that the owner already knows that their dog has a proclivity toward violence or viciousness.
Photographing these signs as you exit a property after a dog bite attack can help you later establish to the courts that the owner knew about the risk their dog poses. Similarly, information shared on social media, such as stories of the dog behaving aggressively in the past, could bolster your case against the owner. Dog bite personal injury cases are often complicated.
Working with an attorney who understands Texas law can help you determine if you have grounds to take action. Holding an owner accountable for a vicious dog can help you recover your lost wages and medical expenses related to the dog bite attack.