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Dog attacks can be a scary incident and anyone involved can be seriously injured. Dog bites can tear skin and cause significant scarring. Texas law does allow for a dog bite victim to request compensation from the dog owner or whoever is liable for the attack as a result of personal injury. Texas law has some of the harshest penalties for owners of dogs that have attacked, but many circumstances need to be met for the laws to be enforced. There are a few available causes of action that a dog bite victim can consider.
Texas law regarding dog bites is considered to be a “one bite rule.” This rule gives a person liability for any harm that was inflicted upon another person by a domestic animal. This rule also states that a person who has been attacked can recover compensation if the dog has bitten a person before or acted like it wanted to. Both of these circumstances must be met or the victim will not receive compensation. Under this rule, it is hard to prove that a dog has bitten a person before or acted like it wanted to. Dog attacks are sometimes random or may occur when the owner or person responsible for the dog is not present. Proving that the dog has bitten someone else before proves to be the harder task; if you cannot prove that, you do not have a case.
A dog bite victim may also recover compensation on the grounds of negligence. Negligence is considered to be a lack of ordinary care. Under this claim, dog owners as well as any other person who may be responsible can be liable. For example, if you knowingly let a stray dog into your establishment and it bites someone, the liability may fall on you.
To recover any compensation under the claim of negligence, for a dog owner, you must first prove that the defendant owns the dog in question. This is typically easy to prove. You must then prove that the defendant owed a duty to prevent the animal from harming another person. This duty is owed by any animal owner, so this is also easy to prove. You must then prove that the defendant did not fulfill this duty and that this unfulfilled duty was the cause of your injury. Claiming negligence may be a better route to take if you are seeking compensation for a dog bite because you do not have to prove that the dog in question has bitten another person previously.
Landowner can be liable, under the negligence claim, if they do not remove an animal from their land (via animal control, etc.) when they have knowledge of how dangerous or vicious it is. As landowners, they are accepting the duty to provide a safe environment for all invited guests or tenants. If you are seeking compensation from a landowner, you must prove that the injury occurred in a common area that is under the control of the landowner. You must then prove that the owner also had knowledge of the dog and its vicious nature.
In some cases, a dog owner’s liability for an attack that causes injury may be based on the owner’s violation of the Texas’ “dangerous dog” law or a local ordinance.
Under Texas law, a “dangerous dog” is one that:
A local animal control authority such as the City of Austin Animal Services Office determines whether a dog is dangerous. Within 30 days after learning of that determination, the dog’s owner must take a series of steps, including registering the dog and restraining the dog at all times in a secure enclosure or on a leash that is in the immediate control of a person.
Under Texas law, a “secure enclosure” means a fenced-in area or structure that is:
Additionally, in Austin, liability for a dog bite could be based on the owner’s violation of the city’s “vicious dog” ordinance.
Under this law, a dog is deemed “vicious” if the animal has done any of the following:
The City Health Authority will determine whether a dog is “vicious” and, if so, mail notice to the dog’s owner. The notice informs the owner that the dog’s registration has been revoked. The dog owner must remove the animal from the city limits within 10 days after the notice is mailed.
Seeking compensation in a dog bite case can be difficult, but is necessary for some victims. Dog attacks can change people’s lives in terms of their appearance and medical bills. If you have any questions, our Austin dog bite lawyers offer consultations. Contact Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP, today! Our office can be reached at 512-454-3751.