Dog Bites and the Law

by Tim O’Hare

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dog bites, dog bite attorney, Tim O'Hare, Dallas personal injury attorney, Dallas personal injury lawyer, personal injury lawyer, personal injury attorney, dog bite, Dallas dog bite attorney, Dallas dog bite lawyerEach year, more than 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States, with nearly 800,000 of those requiring medical attention. Tragically, about 30 to 35 people will die from a dog bite every year; the majority of those are children under the age of 10.

Late last month, 85-year-old Dorothy Hamilton of Kaufman, Texas was found dead in her home after she was attacked by her son’s pit bulls. Authorities seized eight pit bulls from the property; two of those were found inside the home and suspected of killing the woman.

While only a small fraction of dog bites end in death, one death from a dog bite or dog attack is one too many.

Prevent becoming a dog bite victim

You may be able to prevent being the victim of a dog bite. Follow these safety tips:

  • Never treat a dog unkindly.
  • Don’t bother a dog who is busy.
  • Don’t approach a dog you don’t know.
  • Always be calm around dogs.
  • If a stray dog approaches you, stay calm and quiet.

What to do if you’re the victim of a dog bite

Like other types of personal injury cases, dog bites can be the result of negligence. Negligent dog owners may underestimate the aggression of their pet, ignore leash laws, fail to maintain their fence, fail to properly contain their dog, or perform other negligent acts that lead to their dog or dogs biting another person. Dog bites are very painful and can result in significant medical expenses. If you have been bitten by a dog, or received some other injury as a result of an animal encounter, you may be entitled to financial recovery.

In the State of Texas, a dog bite victim can recover compensation for injury or loss under the premise of negligence, negligence per se, and/or intentional tort. Texas does not have a dog bite statute, meaning it adheres to the “one bite rule.” What does this mean? Generally, a victim can recover compensation from the dog’s owner or keeper only if the dog previously bit a person or attempted to and the defendant was aware of the dog’s previous conduct.  There are some exceptions to this rule.

Critics of Texas dog bite laws argue the “one bite rule” protects owners from liability when a dog bites for the first time. Without a dog bite statute, the burden of proof falls on the victim.

A victim can recover compensation under negligence if “lack of ordinary care” can be proved. For example, an individual who lets a stray dog into a day care center full of children could be proved negligent if that stray dog were to bite a person inside the center. In the case of negligence, the plaintiff must prove:

  1. The defendant owned or possessed an animal;
  2. The defendant owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent the animal from injuring others;
  3. The defendant breached that duty;
  4. And the defendant’s breach proximately caused the plaintiff’s injury.

In Texas, a landlord or landowner can also be found liable for failing to remove a known dangerous dog from the property. This law is designed to protect tenants from vicious dogs. In such cases, there is a two-part test: The injury must have occurred in a common area under the control of the landlord; and the landlord must have had actual or imputed knowledge of the particular dog’s vicious nature.

The attorneys at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare know how to deal with Dog Bite and other dangerous animal cases and will work to maximize your recovery. Laws protecting dog bite victims can be challenging, so you need an experienced attorney who understands the laws specific to your case. If you have been the victim of a dog bite, don’t fight the legal battle alone. Contact the experienced legal team at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare. We will fight hard for you to make sure you receive the financial recovery you deserve.

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