Dogs and Negligent Handling in Texas

Jan 30, 2022

Brooks Schuelke, Esq.
Schuelke Law PLLC

Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) January 20, 2022 – Dogs are a subject dear to many, but represent fear to others depending on one’s experiences with them. Many dogs are regarded as loving companions. However, there are many stories about dog bites, attacks, and maulings. In Texas, the dog bite laws are complicated, and it is best to discuss any dog encounter with an experienced dog bite attorney.

According to national dog bite statistics, roughly 4.5 million dog bites happen every year. Any dog can bite, no matter what the breed: even the sweetest pet can wound if provoked, and roughly one in five of those bitten need expensive medical care. Many dog attacks are the result of the owner’s negligence, and that means the bite was avoidable.

Negligent Handling of a Dog

In Texas, a dog bite victim may be able to seek compensation for bite injuries, citing negligence. In legal speak, negligence is the lack of ordinary care or absence of care that a reasonably careful person would employ in similar situations. “If a canine owner does not handle their dog as a careful person would, to avoid anyone being hurt, the victim may file a negligent handling claim,” outlined Austin dog bite attorney, Brooks Schuelke. 

If a negligent handling claim is filed, the plaintiff needs to prove that the dog owner or the person who is caring for and responsible for the dog (defendant):

Possessed or owned an animal
Owned a duty to take reasonable care to forestall the animal from harming anyone
That the owner did not meet that duty
Failing to meet that duty caused the plaintiff’s injuries

If an action such as this is filed, it is not necessary to show the owner knew that the dog was considered to be vicious or had ferocious tendencies. It is important to note that the State’s negligence rule does not just apply to dog bites. It applies to other kinds of injuries that a dog may cause, such as jumping on someone, knocking them over, and causing a fracture.

There is also a legal concept referred to as negligence per se. It means that if an owner violates a law, and causes an injury a law was created to prevent, that owner may be presumed to have acted negligently. For example, many Texas cities and counties have laws that require dogs to be restrained. If a dog owner violates those laws by failing to restrain the dog, then someone injured by the unrestrained dog may have a negligence per se claim. “It is important for a victim’s attorney to know the local laws, because if we can show the dog owner or dog handler violated those laws, then it can help us make a better claim on the victim’s behalf,” Schuelke explained.

Texas has a third claim called a strict liability claim. If a dog has a history of aggression, and the dog owner knows this history, then the dog owner is strictly liable for any injuries the dog causes.

Despite what one may read or hear elsewhere, Texas does not have a one bite-rule. For a strict liability claim, the injured person does have to show that the dog had history of aggression, but that aggression need not be a prior bite. Additionally, victims of dog attacks can make other negligence and negligence per se claims without showing that the dog had prior aggressive acts.

Situations involving dogs are always complicated and it is best to discuss your unique case with an experienced dog bite attorney. If you have been injured by a dog, bitten, knocked down, or mauled you may be able to recover damages, which may include medical care costs, loss of earnings, pain, mental anguish, physical impairment, and disfigurement.

Schuelke Law PLLC
3011 N. Lamar Blvd
Ste. 200
Austin, TX 78705
Call (512) 476-4944

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