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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

What Is the One-Bite Rule in Texas?

Dog attacks can be severe, especially if the canine demonstrates a pattern of aggressive conduct. Though the dog receives some punishment, the owner is just as liable - if not more.


Every Texas dog bite case is different. Claims may not lead to strict punishment for the dog or the owner due to the one-bite rule. Dog bite victims should speak with a trusted dog bite attorney to identify if their case is eligible for compensation.


Continue reading to learn about the one-bite rule and how to determine the owner's liability.


Explaining the One-Bite Rule

Explaining the One-Bite Rule


State law does not outline a Texas dog owner's civil liability for the aggressive behavior or damages enacted by their pet. However, dog owners still have a responsibility to take reasonable care of their animals so that they do not harm other people or their property.


The Texas Supreme Court ruled the one-bite rule in 1974 with the case Marshall v. Ranne. To hold the dog owner liable in a personal injury case regarding a dog bite, they must be guilty of the following:

  • Being aware of his or her dog's tendency toward aggressive behavior or knowing if the dog bit someone in the past

  • Failed to use reasonable care to control the pet that would prevent a dog attack, leading to serious injuries

Even though Texas law follows the one-bite rule, it does not mean a dog owner can ignore the case. Rather, it indicates they must be more diligent in keeping their dog from harming someone else again.


If there are multiple dog bite cases for one animal, a victim has further proof of the dog owner being negligent when their pet acted aggressively.


The one-bite rule helps owners protect other people from their dogs while also caring for their beloved pets.

It can be challenging to hold the dog's owner accountable for the attack. An experienced lawyer can help victims gather evidence that proves the dog's previous conduct displayed aggressive behavior. If they can also confirm the owner's negligence, the victim can recover compensation. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can answer questions such as, "Do hospitals report dog bites in Texas?"


How Do Texas Dog Bite Laws Define a Dangerous Dog?


Some dog bite cases for canines can skip the first-bite rule altogether if the incident is severe enough. Even though there is no designated Texas dog bite law, the state follows specific definitions when proving liability for a dog attack. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can advise on the dog breeds insurance blacklist.


Therefore, Texas uses the following terms to define a dangerous dog:

  • It needlessly attacks another person and causes bodily injury.

  • It attacks someone outside of its secure enclosure.

Dog bite laws require a Texas dog owner to register their pet as a dangerous dog within 30 days of when the first attack occurred. This requires the animal to always be attached to a leash when not in its secure enclosure. Furthermore, it is wise for pet owners to purchase a $100,000 insurance policy for added protection.


If the dog's owner knew their pet caused dog bite injuries and did not register it, they could suffer severe consequences, especially if the dog owner's negligence leads to another attack.


Can the Victim Hold the Dog Owner Liable?


The dog bite victim can hold the owner responsible for an attack and receive payment for economic and non-economic damages. Interestingly, the owner could face criminal charges if the injured person can prove negligence. It could even be charged as a felony if any other of the following occurs:

  • The dog's owner negligently failed to secure the dog which then attacked someone unprovoked.

  • The owner knew the pet's behavior would deem it a dangerous or vicious dog, and it made an unprovoked attack.

  • The dog caused serious bodily injury or death.

Dog bites can be serious. The injured person could hold someone else's dog responsible, which would indicate the owner's liability for the situation.


If the dog owner believes legal proceedings are moving without proper recognition of the one-bite rule, they can work with an experienced attorney to identify their legal options.


What Compensation Can a Dog Bite Victim Recover?


If the dog's owner knew of the dog's aggressive behavior and failed to use reasonable care to prevent an attack, the victim should seek compensation. They could collect recompense for any of the following expenses caused by the attack:

  • Current and future medical bills

  • Any property damages

  • Pain and suffering

  • Mental distress or anguish

Defenses for Dog Bite Claims


Dog bite victims can expect to meet a defense against their dog bite claim. The defendant could use the following arguments for their case:

  • They were unaware of the dog's vicious behavior.

  • The victim provoked the dog's violent actions.

  • The victim was trespassing on the dog owner's property.

The most common defense is that the owner did not know about the dog being dangerous. This is a challenging argument to disprove, as it would require an investigation into the animal's past behavior. The examination could be more complicated if the owner never registered or reported the dog's past incidents of aggression.


Another claim is the victim provoked the attack, and therefore, maintains some level of responsibility too.

Finally, if victims trespass on the owner's property, they may not have as strong of a claim. They should have a trusted lawyer on their side who can back their case with sufficient evidence and strong negotiation skills.


Recover Compensation from Dog Bites

Recover Compensation from Dog Bites


After a dog attack, victims should hire a dog bite lawyer to file a personal injury claim. This can help them financially recover from the attack and hold the owner responsible for their dog's behavior. An experienced attorney can help plaintiffs understand if the one-bite rule would apply to their case.


Additionally, an attorney can help victims determine if the case should move to a dog-bite lawsuit. Most cases can be handled outside of court, but certain circumstances can cause the claim to go to court.


Contact War for You


If someone has been unnecessarily attacked by a dog, they should contact the legal professionals of Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys in Houston, Texas. Their expertise can aid clients in recovering fair compensation for their attack - even if the defendant tries to prove otherwise.


Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys today because, as stated in the name, they go to war for their clients!

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