What Are Dog Bite Risks in San Antonio?
On any given day, you can find dozens of dogs walking with their owners along the River Walk or having fun at McAllister Dog Park. Whether you’re visiting shops along West Commerce Street or eating at one of the cafes on Zarzamora Street, you’re bound to run into a four-legged friend.
However, even an otherwise docile dog can attack someone under the right conditions. Unfortunately, some dogs are aggressive, and some dog owners don’t take the necessary precautions to keep others safe from their dogs.
In a recent year, Animal Care Services reported more than 3,000 dog-bite cases in San Antonio. Over 400 of those bites required hospitalization, and two people died from their dog bite injuries. Incidentally, only 101 of those cases came from dogs with a reputation for aggression and violence, which shows that virtually any dog can attack at any time.
What Are Texas’s Dog Bite Laws?
Unlike most other states, Texas does not have statutes that govern dog bites or dog bite liability. However, Texas courts have ruled that dog bite injury victims may hold the dog owner liable in the following circumstances:
Strict Liability and the One-Bite Rule: Some states follow a one-bite rule, which essentially absolves a dog owner’s liability from a first bite if they do not know the dog is dangerous or aggressive. Other states follow a strict liability rule that allows injured parties to hold the dog owner liable no matter whether the dog has ever bitten anyone before.
Texas follows a modified version that incorporates both rules to a degree. If the dog has bitten someone before and is labeled as dangerous, the injured party would not have to prove the dog owner’s negligence to pursue damages—only that the dog was known to be dangerous.
An injured party needs to establish the dog previously bit someone or tried to, and that the owner was aware of the dog’s propensity toward aggression.
Negligence Per Se: Even if the dog owner had no idea their dog was aggressive or dangerous, you could still hold them liable under negligence per se. To prove negligence, your attorney needs to show that the owner’s dog injured you and that the attack occurred because of the dog owner’s irresponsibility. A good example is if the dog owner didn’t keep their dog on a leash and it attacked you.
Landlord Liability: In some cases, you may hold the landlord of the property liable for your dog bite injuries. If they know an aggressive dog lives on the premises and won’t take the necessary precautions to keep visitors or other residents safe, your attorney could hold the landlord accountable as well as the dog owner.
Determining liability following a dog attack in Texas is not always straightforward, and it can be challenging to build a solid case without having in-depth legal knowledge and experience. Additionally, the dog owner or their insurance company may try to claim that you caused the dog to attack by provoking or antagonizing it.
Hire an experienced attorney in San Antonio for help establishing liability on the dog owner and getting the compensation you need.