Important Facts for Texas Dog Owners and Bite Victims
Most people don’t think of man’s best friend as dangerous, except, possibly when protecting the home or family from an unwelcome intruder. Dog bite injuries are a continuing problem, with thousands of people seeking medical attention for attacks in the United States each year. Dog attacks like other injuries, dog bites vary in severity but can be very serious, resulting in PTSD, anxiety, fear, scarring, disfigurement, and death.
Dog bite laws vary from state to state. Texas is technically a “negligence or one-bite-rule state” but this doesn’t mean what you think it does, as dogs don’t always get one bite free before victims can seek compensation or press charges.
Under the “negligence” heading, a dog owner can be civilly — and even criminally liable — for unprovoked attacks in many situations if it can be shown that he/she knew the dog(s) had bitten someone in the past or previously expressed unprovoked aggressive behavior. Further legal options result if the owner was negligent in controlling the dog, resulting in the victim suffering injuries. The rule: if the dog owner knew or should have known the dog was or would be aggressive for any particular reason then the owner is liable.
There are many factors that contribute to owner liability including where the attack took place, adherence to leash laws, having proper signage and fencing, as well as breed type, and knowledge of breed and pet. Preventing the likelihood a dog will bite someone is a matter of owner responsibility and education.
Consider the Breed
Is there one breed that is more dangerous than another? You bet It is best to educate yourself on the breed of dog you’re considering, and then evaluate the personality of your individual dog before allowing it into certain environments and situations. Statistics: In the 13-year period of January 1, 2005, to December 31, 2017, canines killed at least 433 Americans. Pit bulls contributed to 66% of these deaths. Rottweilers, the second leading canine killer, inflicted 10% of attacks that resulted in human death. Combined, two dog breeds accounted for 76% of the total recorded deaths (based on a multi-year study published by DogsBite.org)
Know Your Pet
Do you know the background of the dog? Is your dog sick? Has your dog just had puppies? These are things that may make your dog more aggressive. Is your overly protective, easily frightened, sick or injured pets should always be kept restrained and unable to come in contact with others (delivery persons, children wanting to pet it, general passersby) who may accidentally be seen as a threat to your dog.
When not actively supervising the dog, the diligent use of “Beware of Dog” signage, backyard fencing, kennels, and leashes is wise, but do not relieve you of liability if your dog gets out and bites someone.
Children are bitten at much higher rates than adults, so cautioning them against approaching a dog with which they aren’t familiar, and only when an adult is present, is advised.
Ask a dog owner if it is ok to pet their dog. Even in this situation, certain breeds of dogs are unpredictable. Even the cutest dogs can bite, and although the bigger the dog, the bigger the bite, smaller animals can still inflict a substantial amount of damage. When little humans and dogs are in close quarters, the owner must restrain the dog so that it cannot lurch out and attack the child.
Dog Bites and the Law
Whether you’re the victim of a recent dog attack or your own dog has bitten someone threatening legal action, it’s good to know your options. The counsel of a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in dog bite cases can be extremely helpful in determining liability if you are the victim of a dog attack.
Deborah Hensley Loewe and Edward Hensley have the knowledge and experience to help you preserve your right to make a claim under the law. Contact us to discuss your options.