Generally, a Texas dog owner is not liable for any damages caused by the dog unless the dog’s owner knew the animal was dangerous and had a propensity to be vicious. However, in certain cases, a dog owner may be held liable for injuries even if the dog has not previously attacked another person or if the dog owner or handler was negligent in taking care of the animal.
Houston Dog Bite Lawyer
At Ben Bronston & Associates, we strongly believe in personal accountability. Pet owners have a duty to ensure a safe environment for others who come in contact with an animal. If a dog is not fit for human interaction, they should be kept secured to prevent serious injury to other adults and especially children. We represent victims of dog attacks prompted by owner negligence across the Greater Houston area, including the Heights, Sugar Land, The Woodlands, Montrose, Bellaire, and Memorial.
Call (713) 225-5236 today to learn more about your case and how we can help you hold the dog owner accountable for his or her severe negligence. Let us help you fight for the compensation you need to address your injuries, medical expenses, and suffering.
Texas Animal Attack Information Center
- State Dog Bite Laws
- One Bite Theory of Liability
- Resources for Dog Bite Cases
State Dog Bite Laws
According to section 822.041 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, a dangerous dog is defined as any domesticated canine that:
- Attacks a person when unprovoked and causes that person serious bodily injury, or
- When unprovoked, causes another person to reasonably believe they will be attacked and receive serious bodily injury.
It’s important to note that all dogs are capable of inflicting harm, from lap dogs such as chihuahua to popular picks such as golden retrievers. However, dogs that are commonly perceived as dangerous generally include, but are not limited to, any of the following:
- Pit Bulls
- German Shepherds
- Doberman Pinschers
- Chow Chows
- Siberian Huskies
A serious bodily injury is defined under Texas law as any bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death, causes death, causes an extended loss or impairment of any body part, or causes serious permanent disfigurement.
According to section 822.005 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, Texas law states an owner may be liable for their dangerous dog if:
- The owner knew the dog had the propensity to bite a person or the dog had previously bitten another person;
- The attack was caused due to the owner’s negligence;
- The attack was cause because the owner failed to keep their dog in an enclosed area or on a leash, or for some other animal control violation; or
- The attack was intentionally cause by the dog owner.
If a dog owner is aware of the dog’s propensity to be dangerous, the owner must keep their dog in a secure enclosure, such as a fenced area, a cage, or anywhere else that prevents the public from accessing the dog or that prevents the dog from escaping. If the dog is not in an enclosed area, the dog must be restrained by its owner, such as on a leash, or within the immediate control of the owner.
An owner of a dangerous dog must also keep liability insurance for any attacks the dog must make and must register their dog with the local animal control authority.
One Bite Theory of Liability
A dog owner that does not abide by Texas’s dangerous dog laws or who knows the dog has the propensity to attack can be held criminally and civilly liable for any injuries sustained as a result of the dog attack.
According to Texas law, a dog owner must know of the dog’s dangerous propensities in order to be held liable for injuries, outside of some other claim for personal injury, such as negligence. This is known as the “one bite rule” or the “one free bite rule.” This means the dog can bite or attack one person before the dog owner will be held civilly or criminally liable for the attack.
Under the “first bite” or “one bite” theory, if an individual has knowledge their dog is generally aggressive and has attacked another person, they can be held liable for any subsequent attacks the dog makes. This means if the dog owner has any knowledge the dog has previously bitten or attacked another person, the owner will be held liable for any attacks the dog makes in the future, no matter what.
Many other states follow statutory strict liability laws, which mean the dog’s owner does not have to be aware the dog was dangerous, nor does he have to commit some kind of negligent act when handling the dog in order to be held liable for damages. Unfortunately, Texas does not follow this theory of liability.
If the dog has not previously attacked another person prior to your attack, a dog owner in Texas can instead be held liable for injuries under theories of:
- Premises liability
- Violation of a municipal law or ordinance, such as a leash law
- Intentional acts involving the dog
- Failure of the owner to stop the attack after it began
Resources for Dog Bite Cases
Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services Animal Bite Page: This page, provided by the County, discusses what to do to protect your health if bit by an animal.
City of Houston BARC: The Bureau of Animal Regulation and Control for the City of Houston captures and manages animals that citizens have complained about or are loose in the city.
Safety Around Dogs: This site is dedicated to discussing steps kids can take to be safe around dogs.
Doggone Safe: This organization provides education about dog bites, and support for the victims of dog bites.
Consulting a Houston Attorney After an Animal Attack
Contact Ben Bronston & Associates by sending an online message or giving us a call at (713) 225-5236. Our attorneys are highly skilled negotiators and seasoned trial veterans. They will vigorously pursue your rights and the fair compensation that you need to begin to move on with your life. If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, let us help you fight to hold the owner accountable.