When a dog bite occurs, it is assumed by most that the dog owner will be held responsible for the injuries and harm caused as a result of the dog bite. But when it comes to dog bite liability, is this always the case? Although dog owners are liable most of the time, other individuals may be held liable or may have attributed to the dog bite and could end up paying for the victim’s medical expenses and other losses on top of their own legal expenses.
Dog bites are many times much more than just a bite. Such attacks can result in horrific injuries including lacerations, nerve damage, disfigurement, infection and extreme psychological trauma. By pursuing a dog bite claim, victims may be able to recover damages that include medical expenses, pain, suffering, lost wages and any other losses related to the dog attack. But who will the claim be against?
Understanding dog bite liability
The dog sitter, dog walker, or someone taking care of the dog. The person who is acting as a caretaker for the dog may be held responsible for the dog bite. This could be possible if the person caring for the dog was in violation of a local dog restraint law.
Landlord where the dog bite took place. If you are renting an apartment, house, or any other property from a landlord and were attacked by a dog while on the landlord’s property, it is a possibility that you can make a claim against the landlord for the losses you have encountered from a dog bite. To be successful in doing so, the incident must meet the following:
- The attack occurred in a common area, for example, a courtyard.
- The landlord was aware that the dog had aggressive tendencies yet did nothing to remove the threat. An example would be, other tenants have made complaints about the dog’s aggression, and the tenant did not take action to resolve the complaints.
- Certain breeds were prohibited according to the landlord but did not enforce the rules.
- The landlord did not keep their duty to keep their residents safe from the dog. For instance, the landlord was aware a fence keeping a vicious dog away from others had a hole in it but did nothing to repair it.
Landlords have the power to control what happens on their property and to keep their property safe. They also have the power to choose what actions they will execute if it is revealed that a dangerous dog who may be a threat to others is on their property.
The dog bite victim. It is rare that a victim is found responsible for their own injuries, but it is not unknown. This is possible in situations where the victim was trespassing, harming the dog, or committing a crime.
Dog owner. The dog owner has the responsibility to keep their dog from harming others. This is especially true if they are aware their dog is easily frightened, territorial or aggressive. In fact, all three of these things may lead to a bite or an attack. By Texas law, dog owners need to have their dogs properly restrained and cannot allow them to roam free.
Dog bite liability: Does homeowner’s insurance cover dog bite claims?
If the dog owner is in an average or lower economic state, it may be impossible for them to afford all the expenses caused by the dog bite. The good news is, there are situations where homeowners insurance will pay for your injuries.
The purpose of homeowners insurance in this type of situation is to help pay for injuries people receive on someone else’s property. Many injuries turn out to be excessively costly making it difficult for homeowners to pay out of pocket for such injuries unless they are quite wealthy. Homeowner’s insurance gives you an opportunity to still have your medical bills resolved without having to carry the stress and anxiety of having to sue a friend or family member.
Homeowner’s insurance will usually only step in if the dog bite occurred within the boundaries of someone’s property. This could lead to problems if their dog was on your property at the time the dog bite occurred. If you were walking down the street and the dog attacked you on the street, homeowner’s insurance may not cover the costs. Instead, you may need to sue the dog owner in court rather than through the insurance system.
Filing criminal charges for a Texas dog bite
The Texas Health and Safety Code Section 822.005 allows you to file criminal charges for a dog bite if:
- The owner did not secure the dog, and it attacked away from the owner’s personal or real property without being provoked.
- The owner knew that the dog was dangerous and it attacked without being provoked outside a secured dog enclosure.
- One of the scenarios mentioned above led to serious bodily harm or death.
For a dog owner to be able to defend themselves against a dog bite liability claim successfully, they must prove:
1. They were not aware their dog was aggressive.
2. The plaintiff was unlawfully trespassing on the dog owner’s property.
3. The dog was properly restrained, and they were properly controlling the dog.
How The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we have a team of attorneys, on staff nurses and investigators ready to determine who is responsible for your injuries suffered from a dog bite. We have over four decades of experience in assisting those bitten by a dog and have the knowledge of what it takes to recover maximum compensation on our client’s behalf. You don’t have to go through this stressful situation alone. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We care, we can help.