The Insurance Information Institute and State Farm Insurance recently released a report detailing the number of dog bite claims filed in the U.S. each year, by state. Texas was near the top of the list, with 688 dog bite claims filed in 2015, putting it in fifth place for the most number of dog bite claims filed in the country. The previous year, the state ranked seventh, with 621 dog bite claims.
However, Texas leads the nation in the number of fatal dog bites each year.
Texas One Bite Rule
Since the 1970s, Texas has followed the "one bite" rule for dogs. Unlike strict liability states - which hold that a dog owner is liable for harm caused by its dog regardless of whether or not the dog was known to be dangerous - the one bite rule states that a dog essentially gets one "free" bite; after that, the dog owner can be held liable. For victims who have been bitten by a dog, this means that unless the dog has bitten someone else in the past, it may be difficult to seek compensation for losses. According to an article in KTXS 12 Texas is one of only 18 states in the country that requires a plaintiff prove negligence in a dog bite case; many do not believe the law is fair.
Other Ways to Hold Texas Dog Owners Liable for Bites
The one bite law is not limited just to bites; rather, the law refers to any act of negligence (rather than being held strictly liable for harm, a plaintiff must prove that the dog owner acted negligently, and that the negligence led to the bite). As such, a dog owner may also be liable if they failed to act with reasonable care. This might include:
- Failing to leash a dog when a local ordinance requires a dog to be leashed;
- Failing to restrain a dog that has demonstrated aggression in the past; or
- Encouraging or instructing a dog to attack/bite someone.
Getting the Compensation You Deserve After a Dog Bite
The average cost of a dog bite claim in Texas, according to the report cited above, is $30,241. For a dog bite victim, $30,000+ is a lot of money, and many people do not have this cash on hand. Unfortunately, a victim may not be able to recover the compensation that they deserve if they cannot prove that the dog owner acted negligently.
If a dog in Texas has bitten you and you are unsure of what your rights are, whether or not the dog has bitten anyone else in the past, or if you might have a claim, our attorneys can help. At Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP, our experienced Austin dog bite attorneys want to help you. We believe that you deserve compensation for all of your losses and medical bills after a dog bite, and we will help you to establish negligence. Remember, if a dog has previously bitten someone or demonstrated that they may be aggressive, there may be a basis for a lawsuit. For a free case consultation, contact our law offices now.