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Texas Dog Bite Law

Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP May 12, 2022

Dogs play an important role in many households, providing companionship, love, laughter, and protection. Sadly, though, dogs can sometimes lash out or fall victim to their instinctual nature. Data from the American Veterinary Medical Association reveals that there are about 4.5 million dog bites reported per year. When a dog bite occurs in Texas, there are specific statutes in place to handle the resulting injury. No matter how the bite occurred, you’ll need an experienced Texas personal injury attorney to guide you through the process of making sure you are compensated fairly. 

As skilled dog bite attorneys at Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP, we pride ourselves on working hard for our clients. Our team is dedicated to doing everything we can to seek the compensation you need after a dog bite injury. From our Pearland, Texas office, we proudly serve clients throughout Texas, including Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Corpus Christi.

Texas Dog Bite Law

Not all states have the same laws governing dog bites. In Texas, dog bites are governed by negligence and a “one-bite” rule. The term "one-bite rule" is based on the idea that a dog's first bite is "free" when it comes to the owner's liability to whoever was bitten. This means that, under Texas law, an owner is exempt from liability from the first bite unless they have a certain degree of knowledge that their dog is dangerous or vicious. After the first bite, the owner can be held strictly liable for subsequent bites. 

Furthermore, any injury a dog causes—not just the bites themselves—fall under the negligence rule. For example, if a large dog jumps and knocks a person down and causes a fracture, the injured person may bring a claim for damages against the dog’s owner. 

Liability in a Dog Bite Case

To proceed on a negligence claim, there are a few hurdles that you will need to clear involving proof. In particular, you will have to show that the dog’s owner (or the individual caring for the dog) was negligent and that the owner’s negligence caused your injuries. The owner’s negligence may involve an improperly restrained dog, an untrained or poorly trained dog, or the owner’s lack of effort to intervene during the attack.

When pursuing a dog bite case, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant did the following:

  • Owned or possessed an animal

  • Owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent the animal from harming others

  • Failed to meet that duty

  • The failure to meet the duty caused the plaintiff's injury

According to Texas’ comparative negligence law, you may be held partially at fault for your own injuries in some cases. Any percentage of fault the court attributes to you may be deducted from your gross award. Texas is a modified comparative negligence state, so you will not receive any compensation if you were more than 50% at fault.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim

Texas has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. This means that in most cases, you need to file a lawsuit within two years of the attack. If you miss this deadline, you will not be able to file a lawsuit, even if you have a viable case. 

A dog bite falls under the personal injury umbrella of claims, meaning that if you are successful, you may be able to recover the following damages:

  • Medical expenses (past and future)

  • Physical therapy, rehabilitation, and pain management bills

  • Expenses related to doctor’s appointments 

  • Cost of prescription medication 

  • Medical transportation (including ambulance)

  • Increase in living expenses

  • Lost wages

  • Pain and suffering

  • Physical disfigurement and impairment

  • Inconvenience 

  • Emotional distress

In cases where the owner acted with actual malice or the negligence was deemed to be reckless, punitive damages could also be rewarded. Punitive damages are meant to punish a dog owner after a dog bite. 

Dog Bite Attorneys in Pearland, Texas

Suffering a dog bite can leave you feeling helpless and confused. In these situations, an experienced dog bite attorney can be vital in pursuing fair compensation and allowing you to focus on your recovery. If a dog attack has happened to you or a loved one, reach out to Hillebrand & Wilson, LLP.  We have a proven track record of putting clients in positions to seek the outcomes they deserve. Contact our Pearland office today to set up an initial consultation, no matter where you live in Texas.