Americans love their dogs and many even treat them as members of the family.
Unfortunately, dogs may react negatively to people or surroundings and bite a person seriously enough that they need an experienced lawyer to help them pursue a claim against the dog's owner.
Dog bites and owner liability are a serious issue today, one that dog bite claims attorneys find to be a complicated matter due to differing state laws on dog bites.
This is why it’s so important that anyone who has been bitten by a dog seeks experienced legal help for their injury claim.
Dog Bites - A Serious Matter
Every day, there are approximately 1,000 dog bites in the United States that require medical attention; more than 14,000 people require hospitalization due to a dog bite every year and there are over 1,000 fatalities annually.1
According to insurers who have paid out more than $797 million in liability claims for dog bites and other dog-related injuries in 2019 alone, the issue is worsening.
Bites are happening more frequently as medical costs continue to rise, making dog bites a serious issue for everyone including the person who is bitten and the owner of the dog.
The Complexity of Dog Bites and Liability
Being liable for a dog bite means that the owner of the dog must assume the cost of any medical care or other damages incurred when someone is injured by a bite from their dog.
Yet attorneys who handle dog bite injuries find that determining liability can be challenging, as dog bite laws that vary from state to state are sometimes vague in many cases.
Sometimes causation for the bite is taken into account, while other times it’s not.
Overall, it’s led to controversy among dog owners, bite victims, lawyers, health officials, and others over who is responsible and should pay for any injuries that were received.
Liability for dog bites is typically viewed in one of three ways:
- The owner is always liable even if the dog was provoked by the person bitten.
- The owner is only liable if they have been found to be negligent in controlling the dog and allowed the bite to happen, while the bite victim could be deemed responsible if they provoked the dog.
- The owner is only liable after the dog has bitten once before, otherwise known as the “One Bite rule”.
Dog Bite Law In Texas
Although the state of Texas has generally followed the One Bite rule, there is currently no official law over how dog bites are handled.
The One Bite rule states that the owner is not liable for an injury caused by their dog if it was the first time the dog has bitten a person.
This can present a significant problem for the person bitten, if that bite resulted in substantial injury and medical treatment was required.
If dog bite lawyers representing the person who has been bitten can prove that the dog owner was negligent in preventing the bite or was aware that the dog might bite based on its temperament, the owner can still be held liable even if it’s a first bite.
Texas landlords may also be held liable if they knowingly allow a dangerous dog to reside on property owned by them.
Dog Bite Claims A Complex Issue in Texas
With all of these rules coming into play and no official standard on how cases are decided, proving liability in dog bite injury cases in Texas can be complicated.
Therefore, it is essential that anyone bitten by a dog seek the counsel of an attorney who is experienced in dog bite liability claims to handle this type of liability case.
Attorneys who assist clients with the complexity of dog bite claims can investigate whether negligence played a part in the bite and whether the One Bite rule can be challenged so that bite victims receive appropriate compensation after receiving medical treated for a dog bite.
Hildebrand & Wilson, Attorneys at Law
7930 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
1Dogbites.org: Dog Bite Statistics, 2020
2Insurance Information Institute - Spotlight On: Dog Bite Liability, March 25, 2020