Dog Bite Laws in Texas
It is always a frightening situation when one is attacked by a vicious dog while going for a walk, checking the mailbox, playing at the park, or gardening in the front yard. These tasks are routine, and when you are in your neighborhood or community park, you don't expect to be violated and injured in this way.
Surprisingly, some 1,000 Americans require treatment for a dog bite injury each day, while 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs annually. According to the nonprofit Animal People, from 1982 to 2011, dog attack cases involving pit bulls, Rottweilers, and their mixes induced bodily harm 77 percent of the time. Moreover, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality cites the number of people hospitalized for dog attacks increased 86 percent between 1993 and 2008.
The One Bite Rule and Its Exceptions
In the aftermath of a dog attack accident, once you’ve identified the dog and its owner, the most important things you can do are educate yourself about dog attack laws in Texas and consult a personal injury attorney. Of the millions of Americans bitten by dogs each year, only about 16,000 receive insurance payments. Why? One reason is because of Texas' so-called One Bite Rule. This law states that owners are not responsible for the first time their dog bites someone; they are only responsible if their dog has a history of violence and if they knew about this and could have prevented the attack by taking more precautionary measures.
An exception to the One Bite Rule is if the dog owner believed their dog would bite someone--then they could be held liable. Another exception is if a dog owner was criminally negligent and did not prevent their dog from escaping the yard or house. If someone is convicted of this, they can face 2 to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. This law is known as Lillian's Law, named for a 76-year-old woman who was attacked and killed by a pack of pit bull-Rottweiler mixes while she was mowing her lawn. It is important to note that for a negligent dog owner to be charged under Lillian's Law, the plaintiff’s injuries must include severe bite wounds and tearing of muscle.
If you cannot negotiate a settlement with the dog's owner or their insurance company, you should file a lawsuit within two years of when the incident occurred, which is the statute of limitations for these cases in Texas. An attorney can help you determine the extent of your accident and whether you should file in the Texas justice court or a county court. Compensation could go towards medication or future scar treatment, mental health counseling, loss of wages, and pain and suffering.
What to Do After a Dog Attack
After you have sought medical attention, there are several important steps you can take to help your personal injury claim:
- Identify the dog
- File a bite report
- Obtain the information of the dog owner, including name, address, dog license information, and whether the dog has a history of violence
- Take pictures of your injuries and save evidence, such as torn or bloody clothing
- Journal about the accident so that all the details stay fresh in your mind
- Hire a personal injury attorney
How Zinda Law Group Can Help
At Zinda Law Group, we genuinely care about the best interests of our clients. If you have been injured by a dog bite or animal attack, our personal injury attorneys will help you seek the maximum compensation possible. Call us today at (888) 671-5127 for a free consultation about your case.