Things to Consider for Dog Bite Situations
Generally speaking, yes, the dog owner would bear responsibility should their dog bite someone. However, the level of responsibility can vary depending on several factors, especially the geographic location the bite occurred.
Some states have a “total responsibility” take on dog bites regardless of the circumstances. Doesn’t matter if the dog was provoked, scared, or aggressive; if the dog harms someone, the dog’s owner assumes responsibility for the damage.
In Texas, the
Texas Health and Safety Code section 822.005 states that a dog’s owner may be charged with a felony if:
- the owner “with criminal negligence” fails to secure the dog, and the dog attacks someone, unprovoked, at a location away from the owner’s property, or
- the owner knows the animal is a dangerous dog according to Texas law, and the dog attacks someone, unprovoked, at a location other than a secure enclosure in which the dog is restrained in accordance with Texas law, and
- if either of these situations causes serious bodily injury or death.
Other states take a more nuanced view on the subject of dog bites, taking into consideration factors such as owner awareness of the dog’s demeanor and behavior. In these states, the owner may be afforded some level of legal protection from responsibility if they can prove they were unaware the animal was dangerous. Proving that argument can be difficult, as any proof showing the individual actually was aware of the threat by the animal can bring the full weight of legal responsibility back onto their shoulders.
In Texas, a dog owner’s civil liability could also be said to be based on negligence. If a dog has bitten once before, the owner is on notice and if he/she fails to take proper care and their dog bites again, a case for negligence can be made. If you were bitten by a dog, you will need to prove the dog’s owner knew that the dog had acted aggressively or had bitten someone in the past, and/or the dog’s owner negligently failed to use reasonable care to control the dog or prevent the bite, and as a result, you were injured.
The victim could also face liability for failing to take proper action to avoid interaction with an aggressive dog.
For example, if an owner has taken the necessary steps to warn others of the dangers presented by the dog, people who ignore such warnings have to take personal responsibility for failing to heed those warnings. If the owner posts a “Warning: Aggressive Dog” sign on their front yard fence and the victim enters the yard anyway, the owner might have some protection since the victim failed to heed the posted warnings.
Likewise, if the owner has the dog on a leash in a public place and provides verbal requests for everyone to avoid touching the dog, a person who ignores those warnings may be liable if the dog owner or his animal were injured in the incident.
Property Owner Liability
This one presents some real challenges in terms of determining liability. If the bite occurs within the boundaries of an animal care facility, the facility could be held liable for the damages. However, it would have to be proven the facility staff failed to use safety protocols when handling the animal.
It should also be noted here that “animal facility” can apply to shelters, clinics, kennels, pet stores, or any business or service that provides animal services. So if the dog in question bites a staff member at a day kennel, the facility could be held liable for the damages if the staff member can prove they were following safety protocols at the time the bite occurred.
However, a property owner that allows the dog onto the property can also be held responsible for any bite incidents that occur. For example, a restaurant that allows customers to bring their dogs into the dining area can be held responsible if a dog bites someone on the property.
It is important for dog owners to always take responsibility for their animals. Even sweet dogs can feel threatened and react with a bite, to protect themselves or their owners. If you have been bitten by a dog, however, you may need to seek compensation for your injuries, any missed time at work, and any other related costs due to the attack.
As one of the highest regarded personal injury lawyers in Sugar Land, Texas, attorney Adam Capetillo wants dog bite victims to know they have legal options available to recover just compensation.