Winning Your Texas Dog Attack Case: Proving Owner Negligence


As a Fort Worth dog bite lawyer, I know that Texas dog bite law is notoriously complex. For this reason, many people think that they can't make a dog bite claim unless the aggressive dog has bitten someone before. It's called the "one bite rule," and it doesn't always apply. 

If you've been attacked by a dog in Texas, you CAN file a claim again the owner, even if their dog hasn't ever bitten anyone before. In order to do this, you'll need to establish negligence, meaning you'll need to prove that the owner's actions led their dog to attack you. 

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

Negligence in Dog Bite Cases

In legal terms, negligence means the "lack of ordinary care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in ordinary circumstances." In other words, the law understands what is and isn't normal human behavior, and it expects people to act reasonably when caring for, crating and handling their dogs. 

An example of negligence would be if your neighbors failed to secure their backyard gate and their dog escaped and bit you. Or maybe someone let their dog run free in the park, and their dog attacked your leashed dog, causing you to get hurt in the process. These are things people knowingly do, and those actions put their dog in a position to bite. 

If you can prove negligence, then you can usually pursue a claim against the dog owner regardless of whether or not the animal had a prior history of violence.

Establishing Negligence Per Se for a Dog Attack

Negligence "per se" means that not only was the dog's owner acting carelessly, but they were also breaking a law in the process (such as a local leash law). To establish negligence per se, you must prove that the dog owner or handler violated a law, stature or ordinance. 

The biggest issue that comes into play when trying to establish negligence per se has to do with the way certain laws are worded. As I mentioned, dog bite law in Texas is notoriously difficult and there are lots of different interpretations. For instance, if the law uses the words "permit" or "allow," as in "a dog owner shall not permit his dog to run at large," does this still apply if the dog dug their way out of the backyard without the owner's knowledge?

Courts disagree about the wording and therefore the outcome of such cases. However, I always hold that it's the dog owner's responsibility to control their dog. If they have a dog that digs, the owner shouldn't leave them outside unattended. If the dog bolts out whenever the front door opens, they should stick the dog quickly in a nearby bedroom or laundry room before answering the door. 

Landlord Negligence in Texas Dog Bite Cases

It's worth mentioning that dog owners aren't the only ones who can be held accountable if their dog bites someone. Landlords, too, have a responsibility to keep tenants safe. If a landlord knew a dog was dangerous (like they'd gotten complaints from tenants before) but failed to take action, part of the blame is on them. 

You can read more about landlord accountablility here. 

Talk to a Fort Worth Dog Bite Lawyer Today

If you or someone you love has been injured as the result of a vicious dog attack anywhere in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, call our experienced dog attack attorneys today. We handle both personal injury and wrongful death cases. Call us at 817-294-1900.

(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