Liability in Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bite injuries occur so frequently that many states have statutes in place that make a dog owner automatically liable for any injuries their pet may cause. However, there are legal distinctions from state-to-state that may include requisite conditions for holding an owner liable for a dog bite injury. For example, some states require the victim to prove they were not a trespasser and the dog chased, bit, killed, or wounded; other states have a steadfast rule that victims of a dog bite accident do not have to prove that the dog owner did anything wrong in the event of injury; rather, the victim need only prove that they didn’t provoke the dog into biting and was “acting peaceably somewhere he or she had a right to be.” There are even statutes that don’t require a dog to make physical contact for an owner to be liable for someone’s injury. The variance in these laws can be confusing, but the counsel of a proficient dog bite injury attorney can help guide you through this landscape.

Texas abides by a “one bite rule,” which means an owner must have had the knowledge that their dog was capable of causing the injury in question to be held liable. Furthermore, victims of a dog bite injury must prove the owner’s awareness that their dog could pose a danger. However, owners of a dog that caused personal injury can avoid liability if they had warned others that their animal may bite and took precautions to prevent injury, such as having the dog on a leash. Subsequently, if a dog bite victim ignored the owner’s warnings and tried to pet the dog—or made threatening gestures to the dog or their owner—a dog owner could not be held liable for the injury.

Statutes that Assign Liability to the Owner

Because pet owners are expected to assume responsibility if their animal destroys property or otherwise causes harm, there are laws that automatically assign this liability to the owner. The statutes that make an owner liable for injuries caused by their pet include:

  • “One bite rule,” in which the owner must be proven to have known that their dog had the potential to cause injury
  • A state-wide dog-bite statute that makes an owner liable for any injury their pet may cause, regardless if they were aware of the dog’s potential to cause injury
  • Negligence by the dog owner as the reason for the injury
  • The injury occurred on the dog owner’s property

Most liability requires restitution in the form of the owner compensating for medical bills, missed time at work, and lost wages. In serious cases, a court may order that the dog be put down if it poses a great threat to the public or children.

Contact a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer

Sustaining injuries from a dog bite can be painful and frightening. At Chris Mayo Law Firm, the dedicated dog bite injury lawyers believe that owners who fail to supervise their dog or otherwise act negligently should be held responsible for victims’ suffering. If you have experienced a dog bite injury, don’t hesitate to reach out to our San Antonio offices at (210) 999-9999 to discuss your case in more detail.

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