Dog Bites and Animal Attacks

Dog bites and attacks can be some of the most terrifying injuries a person can suffer. Between January 1, 2005 to February 17, 2013, 34 Texans were killed by a dog mauling. Sadly, Texas leads the nation in fatal dog attacks. Thousands of others survived with permanent facial and physical disfigurement and ongoing physical and mental injuries.

The law regarding civil liability for dog bites is often inaccurately referred to as a one free bite law. Under this misunderstood theory, an owner is only responsible for their dog’s actions if the dog bit or attacked a person before and the owner had knowledge. THIS IS NOT THE LAW. In fact, there are several legal avenues by which a person can be held liable for injuries caused by their animals.

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Violation of leash laws

Most municipalities have “leash laws” that require pets to be kept on a leash at all times in public. When a dog owner violates these laws, and an attack occurs, they may be held civilly responsible for the injuries caused without any further need to prove the animal’s history of biting nor its owner’s actions leading to the attack. Violation of these leash laws will often trigger coverage in a renter’s or homeowner’s insurance policy.

Dangerous Animal – Strict Liability

An injured person may recover if it can be established that the attacking animal had “abnormally dangerous propensities.” This means that if a dog had a history of attacks, bites or other aggressive behaviors, it may be a dangerous animal by law and its owner may be liable for any personal injury it causes. Further, some breeds of dogs may qualify under municipal rules or by reputation as having dangerous propensities abnormal to the class. Dogs bearing this dangerous animal reputation, such as Pit Bulls, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Chows, Akitas and other dogs bred and trained for their aggressive tendencies may qualify.

Negligent Handling of an Animal

Finally, all owners have a duty to exercise reasonable care in handling their dogs and other animals regardless of breed or history of aggression so as to prevent such animal or dog from injuring others. When a dog owner breaches that duty and harm results, they may be held civilly liable for the harms and losses caused and our firm may be able to help you recover damages.

Escaped pets due to insufficient fencing or supervision are great examples of a pet owner’s failure to reasonably handle their animals.

Let us help determine if you have an action to recover just compensation from an insurance policy for injuries caused by the negligent handling of a dog or other animal. As dog owners ourselves, we love dogs and believe that bad owners or bad decisions by owners, not bad dogs, lead to dog attacks. Don’t assume your case is minor. Dog bites and attacks can leave lasting physical and emotional scars long after the wound has healed. Our attorneys have tried and settled dozens of dog bite cases, recovering fair and just compensation for bites caused by dangerous dogs and careless owners. Let us help you get just compensation for your dog bite and hold the responsible people accountable.

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