Bites are one of the most common causes of personal injuries in the United States. The statistics are surprisingly staggering. Every day, 1,000 people in the US are treated for a dog bite. If an animal bit you, you have options. Here is what you need to know about the law and animal bites.
Dog Bite Laws Vary By State
Animal bite statutes (laws) vary from state to state. In Texas, there is what is called a “one bite rule” with regards to dog bites. Dog bite laws in Texas comes from the infamous case of Marshall v. Ranne. In order for someone to recover from a dog bite, the person must show:
- The dog’s owner knew that the dog had bitten before, or acted aggressively in the past, or
- The dog’s owner was negligent in controlling the dog and preventing the bite from occurring. That negligence was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Negligence and Animal Bites
In order to recover your damages after you have been bitten, you need to make a case for negligence. This means you have to show that the owner failed to exercise reasonable care to prevent the dog from biting.
For example, if your owner knows that their dog is aggressive, but refuses to keep the dog contained by a yard or a leash, then the owner is negligent. If the animal is an exotic animal, strict liability applies and you do not have to show the owner was negligent. You can just recover by showing that the animal caused your injuries.
Defenses to Dog Bites
When a person has been bitten, the dog’s owner can state a defense. In Texas, an owner can claim that they had no knowledge of the dog’s aggression or the person who was bit was trespassing. For example, if a leashed dog was previously docile and then suddenly bites you, the owner can claim they did not know the dog was aggressive and exercised reasonable care by having it on a leash.