Animal Bites Law

Dog Bite Laws in Texas

You don’t have to look far in Houston, Dallas, or Austin to see that Texas is a state that loves its dogs. Across the Lone Star state, many people share their lives with working dogs and family pets. However, when a dog bite attack occurs, the results can be traumatic. Dog bite injuries can be severe and victims can be left facing lengthy and expensive medical care.

Dog bite rules in Texas exist to decide liability when these attacks happen. They show when a dog owner is liable for their dog biting someone – outlining the different rules that can apply when a dog is out in public, on the owner’s private property, or when it has acted viciously for the first time. Importantly, dog bite rules also make it clear what compensation might be available for a dog bite victim.

What should you do after a dog bite attack in Texas?

The first and most important step after a dog bite is to seek appropriate medical care. If the bite is particularly deep, this could mean calling for an ambulance and visiting the emergency room immediately. If it is less severe, the wound should be cleaned and bandaged, and the victim should visit a physician as soon as possible. A victim should document all medical care received for the bite. While at the scene of the bite, you should:

  • Get the details of the dog owner
  • The contact details of any witnesses to the attack
  • Some dog bites are serious enough to warrant criminal charges, so the police may also need to be called

What is the “one bite” rule in Texas?

In Texas, the law on liability for a dog bite is based on the “one bite” rule. This rule says that a dog bite victim can recover compensation for their injuries if:

  • The dog involved in the attack had previously bitten someone, or had tried to bite someone, and
  • The dog owner was aware of the dog’s previous behavior and tendency to viciousness.

In effect, Texas law says that a dog owner will not be liable for a dog bite the first time the dog attacks unless there is clear evidence they knew of the dog’s potentially vicious nature.

What defenses can a dog owner use against a dog bite claim in Texas?

If the “one bite” rule does not apply to a dog bite attack, a dog owner might be able to show that the victim’s own negligence or act contributed to the attack. This would include, for example, where an individual deliberately provoked the dog prior to the attack happening.

Texas dog bite laws also do not apply where the victim was trespassing on the property of the dog owner at the time of the attack. This means, for example, that a thief attempting to rob a property would not be able to claim compensation if they were bitten by the property owner’s dog during the attempt.

What is the statute of limitations for dog bite cases in Texas?

The Texas statue of limitations says that a dog bite victim has two years from the initial incident to start their claim.

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