When Can I Be Compensated for A Dog Bite?In Texas, “every dog gets one bite.” That doesn’t mean you can’t claim negligence if a dog gets loose and bites you or a family member. It does make proving that the dog’s owner was negligent a little more difficult. If a dog has bitten you, and you believe that the owner’s careless handling of the dog allowed the bite, you can do a few things to get the compensation you deserve.

What Is a Dangerous Dog?

In some states, dog owners are strictly liable for dog bites. That means the owner must pay for the injury if a dog bites someone. This is true whether the dog has bitten anyone before or not. In Texas, the owner is only liable if the dog is known to be dangerous. That is the case if the dog has previously attacked or bitten someone. If the dog has not previously bitten someone, the owner may not be liable unless it can be shown they should have reasonably known the dog was dangerous.

So, what is a dangerous dog?

  • Breed of the dog. Some dogs are thought to be more vicious than others. Rottweilers, pit bulls, German shepherds, and others might be more prone to attack than mild breeds like golden retrievers.
  • Dogs that have been trained as guard dogs or “attack” dogs are acknowledged to be dangerous.
  • Prior vicious behavior. Dogs that rush fences, snarl, bark incessantly, and display other aggressive behavior should be considered dangerous. This is abnormal behavior for dogs.

Proving Dangerous Dog Behavior

Because of the “one-bite” rule, an owner may deny liability in a dog bite case. They can claim they had no prior knowledge that the dog was dangerous. You must show both that the dog was vicious to show the dog was likely to bite or that the owner was negligent. Plus, the owner had reasonable knowledge of the dog’s propensity to attack.

Dogs rarely attack “out of the blue.” Unless it is sick or hurt, a dog will usually give a warning before it bites a person. If a dog has bitten you and the owner swears the dog has “never acted this way before,” you should ask other people in the neighborhood about the dog’s behavior before the attack.

  • Neighbors will know if the dog has a habit of barking at anyone approaching or attacking people, even if it has never bitten anyone.
  • Delivery people and mail carriers often know which houses have aggressive dogs. They may even have to carry pepper spray or bear spray to deal with vicious dogs on their route.
  • Law enforcement may have received reports of “lost” cats or other small pets in the area, which could indicate vicious dogs.
  • Other negligent acts by the owner can indicate mishandling or poor training that leads to biting, such as allowing the dog to run loose, leaving gates open, or encouraging the dog to bark or bite at other dogs or passersby.

If You Are Partially to Blame

When Can I Be Compensated for A Dog Bite?Although not a defense, the owner may deny liability by saying you were trespassing on their property when the dog bit you. Texas courts follow a modified comparative negligence rule. This means that if you were more than 50 percent responsible, you would not be able to recover any compensation for your injury.

In a dog bite case, this means that if the owner had posted “Beware of Dog” signs or warned you to stay away from the dog and you tried to pet the dog anyway, you might not be able to recover any damages. On the other hand, if you were walking past the property and the dog came over the fence and bit you, the owner has less of a defense.

Dog owners are allowed to keep dogs they know are dangerous if they do so in a way that warns the public that the animal is dangerous. They also have to prevent the dog from getting loose. After that, people are expected to stay away from the dog.

When You Need a Lawyer

If a dog has bitten you and you believe the owner knew or reasonably should have known the dog was dangerous, contact our dog bite injury lawyers in Houston or Austin at 512-580-8334 immediately. You should seek legal advice before proceeding with any insurance claim or action because of how Texas handles dangerous dogs and comparative negligence.

You have two years from the bite date to file a lawsuit in a dog bite case. Let our attorneys take over all the insurance claims and legal paperwork on your behalf. Let us work to show that the owner mishandled the dog and knew it was dangerous. We will work diligently to get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call us at 512-580-8334 today.

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