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Dog Bite Injuries: A Brief Roadmap

Earlier this week we celebrated National Pet Day, which recognizes the love and happiness that pets bring families.  Dogs are the most common pet in the United States, where tens of millions of dogs are kept as pets.  Unfortunately, dogs can sometimes also cause serious injuries or even death to people.  Hundreds of thousands of dogs bite humans each year causing injuries ranging from lacerations, nerve damage, pain, infection, and even death.[1]  Texas law does not make the dog owner strictly liable for any and every injury caused by the dog.[2]  Instead, Texas law follows the “One Bite Rule” or general negligence principles.

The “One Bite Rule” provides that a dog owner must know of a dog’s vicious propensity before being held liable for a dog bite.  That prior knowledge is often based on the owner’s knowledge of a previous bite by the dog in question.  If the dog has never bitten anyone ever before, or has never shown aggressive behavior, then it may be difficult to recover compensation for injuries sustained by a dog-bite under the “One Bite Rule.”

Even if the dog is not vicious, however, general negligence principles may hold a dog owner or landowner liable if the victim can prove the owner’s negligent handling or negligent care of the dog caused the injury.  These claims often require a showing by the victim that the dog owner or landowner knew or should have known that the dog posed a danger to others.  Further, a victim must also show that the dog owner or landowner failed to use reasonable care to enclose or secure the dog.

Even when a victim can prove the dog owner or landowner is liable, the presence and applicability of insurance must be considered because the dog owner or landowner may only have homeowners’ insurance available to compensate the victim.  However, many homeowners’ insurance policies categorically exclude dog-bite injuries.  Other homeowners’ insurance policies may exclude coverage based on the breed of the dog, excluding dangerous breeds such as pit bulls.

We are experienced dog-bite lawyers who now how to prove a dog-bite claim and maximize recovery from a homeowners’ insurance policy.  For example, we recently settled a dog-bite claim for policy limits, or all of the money the homeowners’ insurance had available to pay the dog-bite claim.  If you or a loved one have been injured by a dog-bite, contact Jonny Havens at 713-955-2215 or for a free, no-obligation consultation.  We typically take dog-bite cases on contingency fee, which means you don’t pay anything unless we recover money for your injuries.


[2]              In some instances, cities or localities may provide stricter rules governing dogs.

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