Most families enjoy the companionship of a dog. People enjoy the happiness and joy they bring to the family or to the individual. However, not all dogs are nice and playful to everyone who comes their way. Some dogs lash out and act aggressive towards children or other individuals in their area. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded around 885,000 Americans are bitten by a pet each year with injuries that require medical attention.
Dog owners are not all mindful of their duty to maintain their dog(s) in a contained area or on a proper durable leash that won’t let the dog astray. When dog owners neglect their duty, it may lead to a dog bite, which in turn could cause injuries for the plaintiff.
That leads to the question, can you pursue an action for dog bites in Texas?
The quick answer is yes, but that answer is dependent on the facts of the case. Negligent handling and strict liability are two theories an attorney can use to pursue this action. To pursue a negligent handling action, the plaintiff will have the burden of proving the defendant’s negligence by not handling the animal properly. The elements the plaintiff will have to prove in court would be: the defendant is the owner or possessor of the animal, the defendant owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent the animal from injuring others, the defendant breached that duty, and the defendant’s breach proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Some examples of this negligence would be not having the dog on a leash or not using a leash that is durable enough to withstand the dog’s strength. Another example is the defendant may not keep the dog in a safe contained area on the premise of the dog owner. Unlike the strict liability action, the negligent handling theory does not require the plaintiff to prove the animal was vicious or dangerous. However, it can be a factor the court will consider to make a decision on the case.
A known example of this type of negligence happened in Parker County in 2014. A lady was walking down a road when a dog ran out of an open gate. The dog bit her leg causing her to suffer “severe vascular damage”. The defendants were not in town as the accident happened, so the plaintiff argued the defendants did not warn others of the dog’s vicious propensities. The court ruled in favor for the plaintiff and awarded the plaintiff’s damages.
The next question is, how long do I have to bring this claim?
The Texas Civil Code answers this question in section §16.003, which states a person has two years to file a suit for this action. If the individual does not bring this action, they will not be able to recover damages.
Before the statute of limitations is up on your claim, it is important to bring the case to an experienced attorney. Eric Reyes is an experienced attorney in this area of practice. As a Board Certified attorney in Civil Law and Personal Injury Trial Law and with 30+ years of experience, he is aware of the many arguments opposing counsel can argue against a motorcycle rider. He and his litigation team are well-equipped to handle a difficult motorcycle accident lawsuit. If you or a loved one experienced this type of accident, please give our office a call at (817) 332-1522.