If you've been harmed by someone else's dog, you're undoubtedly going through a tough time. You're in pain and wondering who's going to pay your medical bills. What's the dog bite law in Texas? Can you get compensation for your pain and suffering? Should you consult an attorney?
Attorney Mark Anderson has over 20 years' experience fighting for dog bite victims in Texas. Contact us today to set up your free, no-obligation consultation.
Dedicated to Serving Dog Attack Victims
Founder and Attorney Mark Anderson is a trusted Dallas-Fort Worth dog bite attorney. Mark was named Top Attorney by Fort Worth Magazine and a 2016 Super Lawyer by Thompson Reuters for his personal injury work. Mark is ranked by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel in the top one percent of attorneys in the U.S. The Anderson Law Firm received an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau.
Recovering compensation for dog bite cases in Texas can get tricky, since the law isn't always straightforward and filing a dog bite claim is a challenging legal process. Attorney Mark Anderson has over 20 years' experience winning dog attack cases in Texas against negligent owners. If you've been bitten by someone else's dog, it's important to have an attorney on your side who fully understands your rights.
Common Legal Dog Bite Terms Explained
The One Bite Rule
There's a popular misunderstanding that in order to make a claim against a dog (and their owner), the dog has to have bitten someone before. It's not true. If you've been attacked by a dog, you can file a claim against 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.
The strength of your case depends on how much evidence you have against the dog that bit you and their owner. Though Texas law protects dog bite victims, you'll have to do more than point fingers at the irresponsible dog owner. You'll have to prove that the dog caused your injuries, and also that the dog's owners were directly responsible for it.
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.
Duty to Protect Others
Every dog owner has a duty (under the law) to protect others from their animal. This includes things like keeping their dog securely contained at home, restraining their dog on a leash while on walks, etc. If you were bitten by a dog that was wandering loose, you could have a strong claim against the owner.
Featured Pit Bull Case
Pit Bull Attacks Through Fence, $150,000 Awarded to Victim
When a neighbor's pit bull chewed a hole through Fernando's fense and attacked his dog, Fernando did what most pet owners would - he tried to break up the fight. The pit bull turned on him instead.
What Our Dog Bite Attorneys Can Do For You
Here at the Anderson Law Firm, we have over 40 years of combined experience winning Texas dog bite cases. We know exactly what to look for, who to call and how to construct your case in the right way in order to convince an insurance company or jury to pay you the money you deserve.
We offer no win, no fee services.
It costs nothing to hire us upfront. After we win your case, we take a percentage of the money we won for you - you never pay anything out of pocket. We also offer free consultations. During our consultation, we'll discuss your case in detail talk about your rights, make sure you aren't doing anything that could hurt your case and go over all the ways we plan to help.
We'll immediately investigate your case.
Evidence disappears quickly. Fences are repaired, cuts heal and signs of dog bite damage are lost. For this reason, quick investigations are crucial, which is why we make yours a priority.
We'll get you the medical care you need.
Here at the Anderson Law Firm, we have two main goals: to get you healed, and then to win you the money you need to pay for your damages and injuries. No matter whether you have health insurance, we'll get you into doctors we trust and won't stop until you're fully recovered.
We'll prove negligence.
If the dog's owner was negligent, we know how to prove it. We'll construct a solid case against the other party to ensure you're rightfully compensated for your injuries.
We'll get you the compensation you deserve.
If you were bitten by someone else's dog, you don't deserve to suffer. Under Texas law, you're entitled to compensation for your medical bills, missed work days, pain and suffering that resulted from the animal attack. Let us fight for your rights.
Our Texas Office Locations
Our offices are located in Fort Worth, Dallas, Keller and Arlington. If you are unable to drive, we will also gladly come to you.
- "They did everything we didn't think of. Wonderful." - Raissa W. READ FULL REVIEW
- "I would recommend the Anderson Law Firm 100 percent." - Mark M. READ FULL REVIEW
- "They eased my fears." - Misty H. READ FULL REVIEW
- "Thoughtful and knowledgeable." - Marc M. READ FULL REVIEW
Dog Attack Law in Texas - The "One Bite Rule"
As a Fort Worth dog bite lawyer, I know that Texas dog bite law can be complex. For this reason, many people think that they can't make a dog bite claim unless the aggressive dog has bitten someone else before. It's called the "one bite rule."
While this accurately describes the concept of "strict liability," it doesn't accurately reflect the law in Texas. It IS possible to win a dog bite case if the aggressor hasn't ever attacked anyone before. Here, I cover both issues.
In Texas, we have something called "strict liability." Essentially, if the owner of the animal that attacked you knew about the vicious tendencies of their pet, then it's much easier to get their insurance company to compensate your injuries.
For example, let's say Bob has a dog named Russ who bit a little kid last year. That means that Bob knows his dog has vicious tendencies and now it's up to Bob to keep Russ under control. Now, if Russ goes off and bites you, it's 100 percent Bob's fault, even if you did something to antagonize Russ. That's the way strict liability works.
In cases of strict liability, the dog's owner can't blame the attack on you. If their dog was known to be aggressive and it indeed attacked someone, it's their (Bob's) job to pay for the injuries.
Debunking the One Bite Rule
Despite all this, you don't need strict liability to pursue a dog bite claim. (And if a lawyer tells you so, don't listen!)
Although strict liability cases are generally easier for a lawyer to pursue, it's not the only way. As long as your lawyer can prove that the dog’s owner was negligent, you have a good claim.
How to Win a Dog Bite Case in Texas Using Strict Liability
The easiest (although not the only) way to win a dog attack injury claim is to establish strict liability against the owner of the dog. Strict liability means that the dog owner knew that their animal was vicious but didn't do anything to stop them from attacking you.
The Trouble With Proving Strict Liability
Bob's attorneys cannot argue "contributory negligence" if the Bob is strictly liable. Contributory negligence would be something like if a kid provoked Rex by yelling at him. But Bob's failure to protect others from his aggressive dog outweighs all other factors.
Even if strict liability cannot be proven, your personal injury lawyer can still make a claim against the dog owner or possessor if the owner was negligent.
Proving Dog Owner Negligence
In a dog attack injury claim, negligence means that the dog’s owner breached their duty to protect you from their dangerous animal. For example, maybe your neighbors failed to secure the gate to their backyard 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.
Dog attack cases that rely on proving negligence differ from strict liability cases since the victim could have been attacked on the dog owner's property. In those cases, the standard rules from general liability cases apply. If you had permission to be on someone's property and their dog bit you, then you can make a claim against the owner. If, however, you were a trespasser, you're far less likely to be awarded any compensation.
Then, there's something called negligence "per se." This means that not only was the dog's owner acting careless, but they broke a law in the process, such as a local leash law.
Injured When Another Dog Attacked Your Pet
As a Fort Worth dog bite attorney, one of the most common dog bite scenarios I see goes like this. You're walking your dog on a leash through your neighborhood when suddenly a lone, unleashed dog appears out of nowhere. The lone dog, feeling threatened or perhaps territorial, attacks your dog. You struggle to pull your own dog away from the attacker and get bit in the process. Sometimes, the lone dog will even purposely go after you.
Such attacks are extremely common and often result in significant injury, which means higher medical bills, long-term rehabilitation and everlasting scars.
Why You Should File a Dog Bite Claim
Unfortunately, dog bites can lead to serious - even deadly - injuries, scarring and disfiguration, and psychological troubles, especially in children. The good news is that dog attack victims may be entitled to seek compensation to help cover the costs of doctor fees, medical bills, missed work days and lost earning capacity.
In addition, you may be able to seek compensation for your mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life. This compensation is added on to more tangible costs related to your injuries.
However, you can't be compensated for any of these things unless you file a claim. The U.S. justice system isn't set up to punish negligent dog owners or to reward dog bite victims on its own. The only way for you to recover money for your injuries is to file a claim.
Making a Claim When the Dog’s Owner Is Someone You Know
A lot of times, dog attack victims are reluctant to make a personal injury claim because the owner of the dog is either a family member, a friend, a neighbor or a co-worker. However, I want to assure you that it's okay to make a claim against someone you know, and you shouldn't feel bad about doing it. You aren't asking for them to pay you directly and the money won't come out of their pocket, but rather it will come from their home insurance policy.
Most dog bite claims are paid using a dog owner's home owner's insurance policy. Because homeowner's insurance rates are set by location rather than on a case-to-case basis, their rates won't even go up. Making a claim will have no negative effects on them whatsoever, so you should not feel guilty about it.
Child Injuries as a Result of a Dog Attack
Children are far more likely to be victims of a serious dog attack than adults. They are also far more likely to suffer severe injuries in such an attack. If your son or daughter is attacked by a dog – even if it’s a neighbor’s dog or the family pet – it is critical that you consult with a board certified Fort Worth personal injury lawyer to discuss your situation so you fully comprehend the lifelong effects the injuries will have on your child and to learn about your full range of legal rights and options.
(Want more information? Download my free book "How to Make a Successful Dog Bite Injury Claim In Texas" here.)
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