When a dog bites in Texas, the owner may be held criminally liable for the injuries caused by the pet. A Texas dog owner can be held responsible for the nature and behavior of the animal. In Texas, there is something called the one-bite rule. To learn more about it and your rights as the victim of a dog bite, or as the owner of a dog who has bitten someone, continue reading the following information.
One-bite rule in Texas
Unlike other states, Texas does not have a civil statute that specifically lays out a dog owner’s liability for damages caused by an animal’s unruly behavior. Texas lacks civil liability statutes for dog attacks or attacks by other animals. It does, however, have criminal statutes.
The one-bite rule means that an owner can be held strictly liable for any damages caused by an animal known to be dangerous or that has a propensity for violent behavior. If the dog has never bitten anyone before, then the injured person must prove that it was dangerous before they can recover damages for any injuries. After the first bite, the owner will be presumed “on notice” of the dog’s tendency to bite. A dog owner may be criminally liable if they acted with criminal negligence or if they had reason to know their dog was dangerous.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claim that nearly 800,000 people suffer serious dog bites in the U.S. every year. Given the vast amount of dog bites suffered each year, Texas dog owners should learn the fundamentals of dog bite laws.
In some cases, dog owners in Texas can be held both criminally and civilly liable if their dog causes injury to another person. Now that you understand how Texas dog bite laws work, here is some more enlightening information about dog bite injuries.
What dog owners should know about criminal liability
In general, children and workers tend to be more vulnerable to dog bite injuries. The frequency of these attacks means that a multitude of cases are filed every year. Thus, awareness of these types of injuries and the legal consequences should be considered.
Sometimes people commit serious mistakes that result in bigger blunders. From not documenting injuries to not hiring a dog bite attorney there are multiple mistakes you can avoid. One of the most critical mistakes to avoid is failing to understand how criminal liability impacts your claim. On this note, here are some things to consider:
- In some cases, the owner may face both serious criminal charges and civil liability. If the owner was criminally negligent or fails to secure a knowingly dangerous dog and the dog attacks someone, they can be held responsible for their actions. When the dog is already known to be dangerous, then the owner has a duty to take effective precautions to protect others.
- For a dog owner facing criminal charges, trying to settle a claim without proper legal representation can be a big mistake. An injured person may file a claim with an insurance company to obtain compensation for their injuries. Insurance may prevent a civil action against the dog owner, but it will not prevent criminal charges.
What happens in the aftermath of a dog bite injury?
Someone who has been injured by a dog bite should perform these steps immediately following the injury!
- Get names and phone numbers of the dog’s owners
You should write down the name and contact information of the dog’s owners. They may have liability insurance that will cover the expense of your injuries or you may need to pursue a legal action in court to obtain compensation. The animal control authorities may also be able to identify dogs from their description and dog tag information to find the owner if they are unknown or unwilling to participate.
- Get names and contact information of any eye witnesses
After the dog bite, the injured person should ask if there were any eyewitnesses. If so, take note of their names and contact information. Some witnesses may be reluctant to provide their information or volunteer their assistance. You can reassure them that a written statement may suffice and you will only contact them if it becomes absolutely necessary.
- Take pictures
They say that pictures speak a thousand words. Take pictures of the dog, the surroundings where the incident occurred, any witnesses and the names of nearby landmarks. Most importantly, take photos of immediately visible injuries. Oftentimes, injuries like bruising and lacerations heal before the claim is resolved. You may need these photos to prove the extent of your injuries.
- Get medical help
Regardless of whether you believe the injury is severe, a person who has been bitten by a dog should always visit a medical center. Although medical help is primarily to prevent injuries from worsening, it also establishes a medical record by medical professionals describing and diagnosing your injuries. This evidence can also support a future claim or legal action for compensation.
- Report the incident to the animal control authorities
People are often so traumatized after a dog bite that they fail to notify the police or animal control authority. But this is a critical step for someone dealing with a dog bite injury. Not only does this, too, create a record of the incident, but it can also prevent other people from being bitten.
How can a dog bite attorney help?
Whether your dog has bitten someone or someone else’s dog has bitten you or someone you love, you should consider legal consultation from a Personal Injury Attorney . An attorney can review your case and explain your legal options. Contact us today.