Thousands of people are bitten by dogs every year in Texas. If you were bitten by a dog, it is important that you reach out to an experienced Sugar Land personal injury attorney. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
What is a Dangerous Dog Under Texas Law?
Under Texas Health and Safety Code § 822.041, a dangerous dog is defined as a dog that makes an unprovoked attack on a person outside of its enclosure. The attack must result in bodily injury or be so aggressive that it causes a person to reasonably believe that the dog will attack and cause bodily injury. If the dog has attacked another dog and not a person, it is not automatically considered a dangerous dog in Texas.
Dog owners are strictly liable for injuries caused by their dog when the owner knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous before the attack. Strict liability means that the victim does not need to prove fault to recover damages.
If the dog has never bitten anyone, it can be difficult to establish liability and win a personal injury lawsuit. Your attorney will often have to show evidence of the dog’s previous signs of aggression. However, even if the dog is not proven to be dangerous, the owner could still be found liable if they were violating other laws, such as Sugar Land’s leash law. Adam Capetillo is a dog bite injury lawyer in Sugar Land, TX familiar with dog bite cases and will investigate your situation to determine if you have a case. If you do, he will represent your interests vigorously to get the maximum compensation for medical bills, rehabilitation, lost wages, and any other related damages.
What are the Requirements for Dangerous Dog Owners in Sugar Land?
Under Texas Health and Safety Code § 822.042, dangerous dog owners in Sugar Land must meet the following requirements.
1. Annually register the dangerous dog with the Sugar Land Animal Control Authority and pay the $50 registration fee.
2. Restrain the dog on a leash at all times under the immediate control of a person or in a secure enclosure.
3. Get liability insurance coverage or show financial responsibility in the amount of at least $100,000 to cover damages resulting from an attack by a dangerous dog causing bodily injury to a person.
4. Comply with municipal or country regulations, requirements, or restrictions on dangerous dogs.
A secure enclosure is a space that is:
• Capable of preventing the entry of the general public;
• Capable of preventing the dog from leaving on its own;
• Clearly marked as containing a dangerous dog; and
• In conforming with the requirements for enclosure established by the local animal control authority.
What is Lillian’s Law?
In 2007, the Texas legislature passed Lillian’s Law, H.B. 1355. Lillian’s Law is a criminal statute that created stiffer penalties for the owners of dangerous dogs. It is named after Lillian Stiles, a 76-year-old woman who was mauled to death by a pack of six Pitbull/Rottweiler mixed-breed dogs while mowing her front lawn. The dogs had escaped from their owner’s home located down the road. The dog owner was charged with criminally negligent homicide but was found not guilty.
Lillian’s Law states that if a dog owner knows their dog is a dangerous animal and the dog makes an unprovoked attack outside of its secured area that causes serious bodily injury or death, they can be convicted of a felony crime.
What are the Penalties Under Lillian’s Law?
If the dangerous dog caused serious bodily injury to the victim in an unprovoked attack, the crime is a third-degree felony. In Texas, third-degree felonies are punishable by two to ten years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
If the victim died as a result of the unprovoked dog attack, the crime is increased to a second-degree felony. Second-degree felonies are punishable by up to twenty years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
How Does Lillian’s Law Affect My Personal Injury Case?
If the dog owner is criminally convicted under Lillian’s law, it will not automatically affect your personal injury case against the owner. A criminal conviction punishes the defendant. It does not result in compensation for the victim. However, a conviction can be used by your lawyer, if they know what they’re doing, to bolster their case and prove liability against the owner. It also provides evidence that the dog is a dangerous animal. Through your civil claim, you can receive compensation for your medical bills, loss of income, loss of earning capacity, disfigurement, and emotional distress.
Your Sugar Land Dog Bite Attorney
Adam Capetillo is an experienced Sugar Land attorney passionate about protecting the interests of his clients. If you have been injured by a dog bite, we encourage you to call our office today at (346) 249-5544 to schedule a free consultation.