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Who is liable for the actions of an aggressive dog in Texas?

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2023 | Dog Bites

Some people feel anxious whenever they see a large dog in public or get approached by a dog that is not on a leash. Those with a history of experiencing animal aggression and those with young children are likely among those most likely to worry about a dog’s behavior.

When dogs become aggressive, they can cause disfiguring, painful and even life-threatening injuries to human victims. Those attacked by an aggressive dog may end up in the hospital and dealing with emotional trauma after an injurious incident. Young children and older adults are especially vulnerable to such attacks.

People may incur thousands in medical bills and possibly just as much, if not more, in lost wages after a dog turns vicious. Who is responsible for the financial aftermath of an aggressive dog’s attack in Texas?

Owners may have liability for dog bite incidents

Texas does not actually have a statute that directly addresses dog bite attacks and liability for the injuries generated in such incidents. Instead, when there is a legal claim related to a dog attacking a person, existing court precedent within the state largely governs how the civil courts handle such matters.

A case from years ago involving an aggressive farm animal helped establish a standard for liability for animal owners in Texas. Provided that the owner knows the animal is aggressive, they are liable for any damages the animal causes when it attacks a person. Some states refer to this approach as the one-bite rule. A dog will typically need to have a history of displaying aggressive behavior, such as biting someone else previously, for the victim of an attack to have legal grounds to seek compensation. An animal owner’s warning about a dog being aggressive or signs posted on their property could help someone build a claim that the owner knew that the animal was aggressive and a risk to others.

Oftentimes, dog bite attacks are eligible for insurance coverage. Both homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies may cover the costs generated when an animal attacks a person. Other times, it may be necessary to go to civil court to obtain compensation after a dog bite. Understanding the Texas approach to dog bite attacks may benefit those recently affected by an aggressive animal to recognize when they may be entitled to compensation and when seeking legal guidance may be necessary to securing that compensation.