Dog Bite and Dog Attack Injuries
Patrick R. Kelly is your dog bite attorney serving the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Thousands of dog bite attacks occur in Texas each year leaving many victims maimed, injured, or even killed. When an irresponsible pet owner fails to prevent unwarranted attacks, a skilled lawyer can seek compensation against that owner for his or her negligence.
Man’s best friend can turn into man’s worst nightmare. If a vicious dog injures an innocent person, the victim will have to navigate the evolving Texas law on the subject to obtain monetary recovery. Statutes, case law, and municipal codes all usually play a role in determining whether a victim may pursue a claim.Common Law Dog Bite Claim
The elements for a common-law negligent handling of an animal claim are that (1) the defendant owned or possessed the animal and (2) proximately caused the victim’s injuries (3) by breaching the duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent the animal from injuring others. The biggest issue that is most often disputed by the defendant or defendant’s insurance carrier is whether a “duty” existed in the first place. Texas follows what is known as the “one-bite rule” – meaning a dog is not considered vicious, and therefore no duty exists, until the dog has previously bitten or attacked a person before. When a dog demonstrates aggressive behavior to people, the owner or possessor of the animal has a duty to ensure the dog is constrained or otherwise prevented from attacking someone. These scenarios are very fact intensive and an experienced dog attack attorney can conduct an investigation on behalf of an injured person to determine if the person can sue for a dog bite injury.Negligence Per Se
The Texas Health & Safety Code establishes statutory guidelines a handler or owner of an animal must follow. The Code, known as the Dangerous Dog Act, provides a standard of care for a vicious or dangerous dog. Those duties include:
- register the dangerous dog with the city’s or municipality’s animal control agency;
- restrain the dangerous dog at all times on a leash or in a secure enclosure;
- obtain liability insurance of at least $100,000 to cover possible injuries that may occur from a dog attack; and
- further adhere to any other local ordinance for dangerous dogs where the dog resides.
The Code allows for fines, the destruction of the dog, and other recourse by the court. The Code itself does not provide a private cause of action, but if violated, this can constitute what is known as a negligence per se claim and usually makes pursuing a lawsuit much easier for the injured person.
Furthermore, many cities, towns, and municipalities have their own dog laws. Again, if these local codes are violated, then the owner or handler may be held accountable through a lawsuit for injuries that result from the attack. For example, the City of Dallas’ dog leash ordinance requires a handler or owner to restrain the animal at all times in a fenced yard, an enclosed pen or structure, or to a tether or a leash. Mesquite, Texas has a similar strict leash law that even applies to cats. There are exceptions to every rule that can be discussed with a lawyer. Of course, these specific dog leash laws are only examples and a more exhaustive list of ordinances for various cities in the Dallas area for dog and animal attack prevention may be obtained from our law office.
The aftermath of a dog attack can negatively impact one’s life. Medical bills may mount, pain and suffering may continue, infections may occur, and mental anguish and fear of another dog attack exists. If you or someone you care for have been injured by a dog bite or dog attack or by other dangerous animal, contact our law office immediately for a free consultation with one of our lawyers.