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I've Been Bitten by a Dog - Who is Liable?

Beware of the Dog sign

While most dogs are friendly and loyal companions, it is important to remember that dogs are still instinctual animals that can turn on a person in an instant. A dog attack from nearly any breed can result in serious injuries and expose victims to harmful diseases such as tetanus and rabies. If you have been bitten or attacked by another person’s dog, you may have grounds to take legal action in pursuit of monetary compensation for your injuries. But under what circumstances may a person sue another dog owner?

What Is the “One Bite” Rule?

Texas is a “negligence” or “one bite rule” state in regards to dog bites as established by the 1974 Texas Supreme Court decision Marshall v. Ranne. Under this rule, individuals who are injured by a dog bite must be able to prove either of the following to recover damages:

  • The dog’s owner had knowledge of the dog’s aggression or history of biting people in the past
  • The dog owner failed to exercise proper care to control the dog or prevent the bite from occurring, causing the plaintiff’s injuries

For example, say you are out for a jog one day when your neighbor’s normally-friendly dog runs out of an open gate and bites you. Even though the dog had no history of aggression, since your neighbor negligently left their dog outside with the gate open, they can be held liable for your injuries. On the other hand, if the dog had no history of aggression and was on a leash at the time of the bite, you would likely be unable to seek compensation. It is also important to note that you may not seek compensation for any bites sustained while trespassing – even if the dog was unrestrained and known to be aggressive.

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?

Dog bites are treated like any other personal injury case in Texas and are subject to a two year statute of limitations. In other words, you must file a claim within two years of the date in which the bite occurred in order to have your claim heard by the courts. If this time limit expires, you will likely lose your right to pursue compensation. For this reason, if you have been bitten by a dog, it is imperative you take action as soon as possible to ensure your compliance with all relevant legal deadlines.

At Dean Law Firm, our knowledgeable Midland personal injury lawyers have recovered millions on behalf of injured Texans and can provide the powerful advocacy you need to maximize your chances of securing the compensation you deserve. To find out more about what our 20+ years of experience can do for you, schedule a confidential consultation online or call (432) 214-8125 today.

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