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How does Texas address dog bite liabilities?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2021 | Firm News |

In a state as populated as Texas, residents care for a wide range of breeds, some of which may present a higher risk of biting anyone who gets too close. Who is at fault when a dog bites someone?

The law and dog bites

Injuries inflicted by an animal may fall under the state’s liability laws. The Texas Supreme Court set a precedent in a ruling that led to Texas establishing a “one bite rule” standard. If the animal has a history of being dangerous or has the potential to be dangerous, the owner may be held liable for injuries. When the animal never bit anyone before, the injured person must prove that the dog was vicious.

Pit bulls and Rottweilers caused the most fatalities following dog attack incidents from 2005 to 2020, so owners of these breeds may need to be more careful or risk being liable for a pet’s actions. However, there could be incidents where an owner is not responsible when a dog bites someone.

Circumstances surrounding dog bite liabilities

Negligence factors into dog bite cases, and the owner’s behavior may come under scrutiny in court. If a dog owner ignored leash laws and allowed a large and aggressive dog to run wild in a park, the owner could be liable for any injuries. The same might be the case when leaving a dog unattended in a backyard with low fences. Did the dog have a history of jumping the fence and chasing people? If so, such information may come up in court.

On the other hand, a bite victim who ignored warnings, trespassed or abused a docile dog may have difficulty proving that an owner was at fault. In some cases, both the owner and the victim may share the blame.

Homeowner insurance might cover a dog bite incident. Some policies have breed and other exclusions, leaving the owner responsible for losses when the policy doesn’t cover injuries. In these cases, a personal injury lawsuit against the owner may follow.