Texas Law and Dog Bite Injuries: Here’s What You Need to Know
While dogs might be a man’s best friend, national data highlights that in unique circumstances, a man’s best friend can also cause vulnerable victims to suffer severe injury and even death if they fall victim to a dog bite.
According to national data, an estimated 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs yearly in the U.S. Globally, tens of millions of dog bites occur. In the U.S., half of these dog bite victims are unfortunately children because of their heightened vulnerability and small size.
The World Animal Foundation goes on to highlight the following regarding dog bites and injuries:
● 1 in 112,400 victims dies from their dog bite injuries
● 70% of dog bites are from unneutered (male) dogs
● Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are responsible for 77% of all dog bites
● The Kangal Dog breed has the strongest bite force of 743 PSI
● In 2019, out of a total of 46 dog attack fatalities, 33 were caused by Pit Bulls
Additionally, some dogs are more likely to bite humans than others. These breeds include Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Wolf Hybrids, mixed breeds, Bull Mastiff, Boxers, and Great Danes.
How Does Texas Define a Dangerous Dog?
Under Texas Law, the state defines a dangerous dog as a dog that exhibits the following:
● A dog that makes an unprovoked attack on a person that causes bodily injury and occurs in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept and that was reasonably certain to prevent the dog from leaving the enclosure on its own
● A dog that commits unprovoked acts in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept and that was reasonably certain to prevent the dog from leaving the enclosure on its own and those acts cause a person to reasonably believe that the dog will attack and cause bodily injury to that person.
How to Prove Liability in a Texas Dog Bite Case
Certain criteria need to be met in order to prove liability in a Texas dog bite case. Victims must be able to show the following:
● The owner knew that their dog has aggressive behavior or has bitten someone in the past.
● The owner had a duty to provide reasonable care to control their dog’s behavior and keep others safe.
● The dog owner violated that breach of duty, was negligent, and as a result of that negligence, an individual was injured.
Being able to prove that a dog has a history of aggressive behavior is critical to any dog bite injury case. Proving this aggressive behavior can be done by collecting documentation or incident reports from avenues like the Animal Control Department, witness statements, and even statements from dog experts.
A dog owner who had previous knowledge of their animal’s vicious propensity can be held strictly liable for the injuries inflicted. Even if a dog does not have a record of aggression or violence, the owner can still be liable if the attack occurred because of the owner’s negligence, such as letting the dog roam off-leash in public or in an unfenced yard.
Can Dog Owners Be Held Criminally Liable?
According to Texas Health and Safety Code section 822.005, dog owners can be held criminally liable in instances where their dog severely injured or killed a person. Owners can be charged with a felony if the following factors exist:
● The owner was criminally negligent in failing to secure the dog and the dog attack happened unprovoked at a location away from the dog owner’s property.
● The dog owner was put on prior notice of their dangerous dog, and the dog attack occurred outside of a secure location where the dog is typically restrained.
● A victim suffers serious bodily injury or death.
Speak With a Dog Injury Lawyer
The legal professionals at the Turley Law Firm can help you understand your legal rights and options if you or a loved one has been injured by a dangerous dog or due to a dog owner’s negligence. Contact our legal team today to schedule a free case consultation and speak with one of our experienced and dedicated legal professionals.