The Dangerous Dog Designation and Your Dog Bite Injury Claim

Texas leads the nation in fatal dog attacks - between 2005 and 2013, 34 Texans died as a result of dog bites, which is more than any other state during that time. Pit bulls were responsible for the majority (76 percent) of those attacks. 

In an effort to reduce the number of dog bites in Texas, there exists something called the "dangerous dog designation." Fort Worth, along with other Texas cities, has a system to mark dogs that attack someone as "dangerous." This designation helps to prevent future bites by enforcing specific containment requirements for the aggressive dog. Furthermore, if a dangerous dog bites someone, it's much easier for the victim to win compensation for their medical bills. 

(Want more information? Download my free book "How to Make a Successful Dog Bite Injury Claim In Texas" here.) 

What Kinds of Dogs Can Be Designated "Dangerous?" 

Any dog, no matter what breed, can earn the dangerous dog designation. If a dog attacks someone or threatens to attack, it meets the requirements. 

If you want to report a dog as dangerous, you'll need to notify a Texas court, and they'll then let the dog owner know that their dog is under review. The rules concerning a dangerous dog designation vary from location to location depending on local county or city laws. In Fort Worth, an investigation will take place on behalf of the bite victim and a judge will determine whether or not to label the dog as dangerous. 

What Happens to a Dog That's Labeled as Dangerous? 

If the judge declares the dog as “dangerous,” then the dog owner can make a choice: either they turn their dog over to the city to be humanely destroyed, or they keep their dog with restrictions. It’s very rare that a dangerous dog is destroyed. In most cases, the dog owner will decide to keep their dog.

If an owner decides to keep their dangerous dog, they must pay the city $500 per year and obtain a minimum of $100,000 in homeowner’s liability insurance in case the dog attacks someone else in the future. The city must also approve the dog’s enclosure, which is required to have four walls, a roof and concrete (non-dirt) floor. If the owner takes their dog on a walk, it must be on a leash, must wear a muzzle and must also wear a vest that clearly marks the dog as dangerous.   

Winning a Dog Bite Claim With and Without the Dangerous Dog Designation

Winning a personal injury or wrongful death claim is much easier if the dog that bit you is labeled as dangerous. Through filing a claim, you'll be able to recover money for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering. 

But what if the dog that bit you hasn't ever bitten anyone before? What if they aren't already labeled as dangerous? 

Here, things get a little bit trickier, but it's still possible to win your case by proving liability. To do this, you'll need to prove owner negligence OR a violation of local statues. Additionally, you can possibly point to the fact that the dog owner in question has other criminal charges against them related to your attack, such as felony charges brought under Lillian’s Law.

In order to build a strong case, I'd advice that you discuss your situation with a personal injury attorney. The first consultation should be free, and they'll be able to tell you how they can build your case, what evidence works in your favor and whether or not you have a good claim for compensation. 

(Want more information? Download my free book "How to Make a Successful Dog Bite Injury Claim In Texas" here.) 


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Mark A. Anderson
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Board Certified Personal Injury Lawyer in Fort Worth, Texas