Dog Bite Lawsuits

 

Dallas Dog Bite Lawyers

There are several avenues that can be taken in proving a dog bite case in Texas.  Depending on the specific facts of your case, the Dallas dog bite lawyers at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP can tell you which cause of action is most appropriate.  Please feel free to browse the information on our website and then call us to discuss your case.

 

Negligence

One way to proceed in dog bite cases is through the doctrine of negligence.  In order to prove that the owner of a dog violated the standard of negligence, the following elements must be proven:

    1. The defendant was the owner of the animal.
    1. The defendant owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent the animal from hurting others.
    1. The defendant breached that duty of care.  This breach may be the defendant’s unreasonable action, or it may be his failure to take reasonable action.  Examples of such behavior include failure to keep the dog on a leash, or failure to maintain a proper fence.
    1. The breach was the proximate cause of the injuries in question.  This means that the breach must have caused foreseeable harm.

Proving a negligence claim does not require that the owner knew that the dog was a dangerous animal.  As long as the breach of duty was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries, he can recover under the theory of negligence.  The Dallas dog bite lawyers at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP can decide whether a negligence cause of action would be appropriate in your particular case.

 

Dangerous Dog Laws

In Texas, there are dangerous dog laws that explain when an owner will be considered to have knowledge that his dog is dangerous.  These laws can impose civil and criminal liability if broken.

A dog will be considered a dangerous dog if

    1. The dog makes an unprovoked attack on a person, causing serious bodily injury, and the attack happens outside of the dog’s reasonably secure enclosure, or
    1. The dog commits an unprovoked act outside of the enclosure, and those acts cause a person to reasonably believe that the dog will attack and cause bodily injury.

The owner is considered to have notice that a dog is a dangerous dog if:

    1. The owner knows of the attack,
    1. The owner receives notice from a court that the dog is a dangerous dog, or
    1. The owner is informed by animal control that the dog is a dangerous dog.

There are many things that the law requires of dangerous dog owners:

    1. The dog must be registered with animal control,
    1. The dog must be restrained in a secure enclosure, or must be on a leash within the owner’s immediate control,
    1. The owner must obtain liability insurance or show proof of financial responsibility in the amount of $100,000 to cover bodily injury damages, and
    1. The owner must comply with county and municipal regulations.

If these rules are not followed, local animal control is authorized to seize the dog and potentially destroy it.  The owner of a dangerous dog will be guilty of a 3rd degree felony if the dog causes serious bodily injury.  If the dog causes death, he will be guilty of a 2nd degree felony.  Proving that an animal is a dangerous dog by statute can also provide the basis of a civil lawsuit.  Contact the Dallas dog bite lawyers at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP to begin reviewing your case today.

 

Strict Liability

Defendants can be held responsible for dog bites under the theory of strict liability as well, but the elements are slightly different.  The following must be proven:

    1. The defendant was the owner of the animal,
    1. The animal was known to have dangerous propensities abnormal to its class,
    1. The owner knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensities,
    1. The dog’s dangerous propensities caused the injury.  Because this is a strict liability cause of action, it does not matter whether the injuries were foreseeable or not.

The challenging element of a strict liability cause of action is proving that the animal had dangerous propensities abnormal to its class.  However, this can be proven using the dangerous dog statute, and then one can proceed with strict liability.

 

Other Texas Laws

One Bite Law

In Texas, there is no dog bite statute that establishes that an owner is liable for the actions of his dog.  In fact, Texas follows the one bite rule, which states that an owner is not liable for the injuries caused by his dog unless the owner knows that the dog has the tendency to bite without reason.  Because of this, it is important to have an attorney that can pursue your claim under another theory such as negligence or strict liability.  These theories are not subject to the one bite rule.  These causes of actions are complex.  The Dallas dog bite lawyers at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP are here to help.  Contact us today.

Lillian’s Law

The Texas legislature responded to the controversial 2007 case of Texas v. Hernandez in which a man whose 6 dogs killed an elderly woman was found not guilty of criminal negligence by stiffening the criminal penalties for such attacks.  The new law did little to make any real changes, and has been highly criticized.  It did nothing to change or modify the one bite rule, and still requires a high burden of proof to prove criminal negligence.  It did however impose longer jail times for owner’s of dogs who kill human beings.

Failure to Stop an Attack

In the case of Bushnell v. Mott, the Texas Supreme Court established that regardless of what caused a dog attack to occur, the dog’s owner has a duty to try and stop the attack.

Landlord Duties

There are situations in which a dog bite victim can bring a lawsuit against the landlord of the premises where the dog attack occurred.  Such liability will never be automatically attributed to the landlord, but there are ways to prove such cases.  If it can be proven that the landlord knew of the dog’s presence and its dangerous tendencies, and could have acted to remove the dog, he can be held liable for failing to do so.  The landlord also has the obligation to repair the premises, and if such a repair might have prevented the dog bite, this can also establish liability.  The dog bite lawyers at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP are experienced and aggressive.  Whether it is a landlord or the insurance company, we have the knowledge and skill to handle your dog bite case.

Bystander Claims

In Texas, in certain circumstances, an individual may recover for the mental anguish she suffered while witnessing a dog attack.  If the victim was a close relation of the bystander, and the victim was severely injured or died in the attack, then the bystander may have a claim for mental anguish.  It is not necessary that the mental anguish result have physical manifestations, as long as the following elements are met:

    1. The plaintiff was in close proximity to the scene of the attack,
    1. The plaintiff observed the accident firsthand, resulting in direct emotional impact, and
    1. The plaintiff and the victim were closely related.

Proportionate Responsibility

Texas follows a form of comparative negligence called proportionate responsibility, according to which if the victim is 50% or more responsible for the incident, he is barred from recovery.

 

Call the Dallas dog bite lawyers at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP today.

If you have been injured in a dog attack, you need a team of experienced attorneys to make sure that the dog’s owner does not evade responsibility.  Texas does not have the most victim-friendly dog bite laws, therefore it is of critical importance that you secure representation.  We are here to answer your questions and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve for your physical and emotional injuries.  Contact us the dog bite lawyers at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP today for a free consultation.