How Does the One-Bite Rule Affect Victims of Dog Bites in Texas?
People may assume that if they are bitten by a dog in Texas, then holding the animal's owner liable for compensation is a fairly straightforward proposition. Unfortunately, seeking legal retribution for the consequences of dog bites can be more difficult than expected.
In fact, Texas is one of 18 states to have what is known as a one-bite rule. This rule provides that a bite victim may be able to secure compensation from an owner if they can prove the dog has bitten, or behaved as it was going to bite at least one other person. Also, there must be evidence showing the owner as having an awareness of the animal's violent tendencies.
Unlike many other states, the Lone Star State does not have dog bite laws containing strict liability statutes. Therefore, should you get bitten, the onus is on you to prove that the dog in question is possessed of what are called "vicious propensities." This means that in a court of law you may have to bring forth demonstrable evidence that a dog is inherently aggressive.
So, what factors in addition to the one-bite rule may be used to indicate a dog has a vicious nature? Well, certain breeds of dog, including the Rottweiler and the pit bull, may be considered as having a predisposition for aggressive behavior. Also, if the dog has undergone attack training for purposes of protection, then a supposition could be made that the owner possessed knowledge of the animal's potential for causing harm.
Another factor indicating prior knowledge could be if there was a history of people bringing complaints of dangerous behavior to the dog owners' attention. Consideration could be given regarding the owner's response to these complaints, or lack thereof, in deciding liability.
What this demonstrates is that should you or a member of your family be bitten by a dog, an investigation into the background of the animal and its owner may be necessary to succeed in winning damages through a civil suit. A Texas attorney who understands how to gather facts for presentation when seeking compensation may be able to give you assistance.