Proving Liability After a Dog Bite
When you’re bit by somebody else’s dog it can cause pretty serious injuries. However, just because a dog bites you doesn’t always mean that the homeowner will be found liable for your injuries. What we have to look at is how is that party or the dog owner going to be held liable?
For example, if you were breaking into somebody’s house and their guard dog attacks you, you wouldn’t think that you have a claim. This is one example of a case you might not be able to recover damages for the attack. Texas, in most circumstances, follows three potential courses for finding liability.
One is that the dog is a dangerous dog. This is generally defined by a local ordinance. In every city or county they have a procedure or set of standards used to declare a dog dangerous. Most of the time it boils down to whether the dog has bit or scratched another dog or a person in the past. If there’s a prior reported bit incident, they’re usually going to be determined to be a dangerous dog. In that case, the owner is going to be liable under most circumstances for your bite.
The other is a finding of negligence per se. That means that the dog owner violated some sort of ordinance or statute regarding the dog. That usually means a leash law. Of course the violation has to have caused your injuries. A violation like keeping more pets than you’re allowed to in the city doesn’t necessarily lead to being bit, but failing to restrain the dog on a leash certainly may have.
The last category is just standard negligence. Did the owner fail to do something or behave in a way that’s negligent? One example of proving negligence is by showing they failed to inspect for holes in their fence and the dog escaping led to an attack. Negligence claims are typically the harder way to prove a dog bite.
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