In the newspaper world “Man Bites Dog” is an expression used when something noteworthy or downright weird is happening. This phrase came into use because it’s the mirror image of something that happens so often it’s not news at all — Dog Bites Man. Unfortunately, dog bites are incredibly common.
According to a study from the Center For Disease Control (CDC), approximately 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States each year. 800,000 of those bites require medical care. We all know medical costs add up quickly, which is why our firm regularly helps people who have been bitten by a dog — or another animal kept as a pet — seek compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Unlike many other states, Texas does not have a dog bite statute that spells out exactly who is at fault and what happens next after a dog bites someone. Instead, our state relies on traditional rules of tort law. This means that in order to recover damages you have to show that the dog’s owner was negligent, or that the dog who bit you was known to be dangerous.
If you have been bitten by a dog, you may be able to seek compensation from the dog’s owner if you can show that the owner did not try hard enough to prevent their dog from injuring you. Reasonable people will train their pets, and keep them on a leash or fenced up.
If the dog owner failed to act reasonably, and their failures lead to your injury, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries. If there are leash or fencing laws in your community, and the dog owner was not following them, that may automatically be considered a failure to act reasonably.
This rule also applies in situations where a dog injures someone without biting them, like when an elderly person is knocked over by a friendly dog that jumped up to say hello.
One Bite Rule
If the dog that bit you was known to be vicious, dangerous, or mischievous, your case may be easier to prove because the courts will often apply what is known as the “one bite rule.” The “one bite rule” is a strict liability rule. Under this rule, the dog’s owners will be held automatically liable if their dog has bitten someone before, or is known to be vicious, dangerous, or mischievous.
A Bitter Battle
Dog bite lawsuits are often incredibly contentious because we all love our pets. Nobody wants to believe that their dog is dangerous, so dog owners will often dispute that a bite occurred or downplay serious injuries. It is therefore critical to seek medical attention for all dog bites so evidence of the true extent of the injury is available.
It is also important to work with an experienced personal injury attorney if you want to seek compensation for a dog bite injury.