Jason Stephens | October 21, 2022 | Dog Bites
When a dog bites a person in Fort Worth, the dog owner could be liable for damages that result. However, property owners could also be liable if a dog bites someone on their property. Dog owners, property owners, and dog bite victims need to understand Texas dog bite laws to protect their legal rights after a dog attack.
Property Owners Have a Duty of Care
Under premises liability laws, property owners have a duty of care to maintain safe premises. As a result, they can be held financially liable for damages if someone is injured on their property. The level of care depends on the status of the person injured on the property.
Invitees are owed the highest duty of care. A person is an invitee if they are visiting a property for a business or other similar purposes, such as a shopper at a retail shop or a guest at a sporting event. Property owners must regularly inspect and keep the property safe from hazards.
Licensees are owed a lower duty of care than invitees. Licensees are typically social guests, such as friends gathering at a home for a dinner party. Property owners must still warn licensees about non-obvious hazards.
Trespassers are generally not owed a duty of care because they are not lawfully on the premises. However, there are limited exceptions.
If a property owner is aware that a dog is on the property, they must take reasonable steps to prevent the dog from injuring someone lawfully on the property. If they know the dog is dangerous, they must take extra precautions to prevent a dog bite or attack.
Does Texas Have a One Bite Rule?
Texas does not have a specific statute that addresses a dog owner’s liability when the dog bites someone. However, there are laws that require dog owners to take specific actions when they know their dog is “dangerous.”
Some states have a law that says a dog owner is not liable for damages if their dog has never bitten anyone, unless the injured party proves the dog owner was negligent. These laws are often referred to as “one-bite rules.”
Texas has a modified one-bite rule. A dog owner might not be held liable for a dog bite unless:
- The dog is designated as a dangerous dog;
- The dog has bitten someone in the past or behaved as if it wanted to bite someone; and,
- The owner knew of the dog’s behavior.
A dog owner can be liable for damages if the owner acted negligently and the negligence led to the dog bite. These laws apply to dog attacks of any nature. Also, one-bite rules do not apply to several dangerous breeds or when a dog is in a setting that could likely lead to an attack.
Texas Dog Bite Laws for Dangerous Dogs
Texas Health and Safety Code §822.041 defines a dangerous dog as a dog that:
- Makes an unproved attack on someone that causes bodily injury in a place other than an enclosure which is reasonably certain to preen the dog from leaving the enclosure on its own; OR,
- Commits unprovoked attacks in other places that would cause a person to reasonably believe the dog will attack them and cause bodily injury.
The law requires a person to register their dog as a dangerous dog with the local animal control authority within 30 days of learning the dog is dangerous. In addition, the person must always restrain their dog on a leash when outside of a secure enclosure.
The dog owner must also purchase liability insurance or provide proof of financial responsibility in a minimum amount of $100,000. Owners of dangerous dogs must comply with all local laws, regulations, and requirements for owning dangerous dogs.
Who Is Liable for Your Dog Bite Injuries in Fort Worth?
It could be confusing to know who is liable for your dog bite injuries when a dog bites you on another person’s property. If the dog owner and the property owner are the same person, it is easier to determine liability for a dog bite. However, landlords, business owners, and other property owners could be liable for damages, even if the dog was not theirs.
An attorney investigates the circumstances of your dog bite to identify all parties who could share liability for your claim. Also, an attorney fights back against allegations that you caused the dog bite because you provoked the dog or otherwise contributed to the reason the dog bit you.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Fort Worth, TX
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth and need legal help, contact our Fort Worth personal injury lawyers at Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents to schedule a free consultation.
Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents
1300 S University Dr # 406
Fort Worth, TX 76107