What You Need To Know About the One-Bite Rule

Find out what does the “one bite rule” involve, know your rights as a dog bite victim, and find a reputable dog bite attorney in Houston, TX to help you get the compensation you deserve.

Dog bites and dog attacks ( two or more successive bites) are common occurrences in the US and some of them, unfortunately, result in some serious injuries. According to the CDC, more than 800,000 Americans, including children ( out of nearly 4.5 million who are bitten by dogs each year) receive medical treatment for their dog bite wounds. Although all dog breeds can potentially inflict bites, Pitbulls and Rottweilers or mixes of these two breeds are typically involved in severe and even fatal cases.

Dog bite laws vary from state to state, but all states recognize that the owner of a dog that bites another person can potentially be held liable for personal injury and/or property damage caused by the bite or attack of his/her dog. These laws are a combination of common law, state case law, state statutory law, and various county and city ordinances. Generally, based on the way liability is attached, there are one bite rule states, strict liability stats, and mixed dog bite law states.

Dog Bite Laws in Texas Vs Other States

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Texas is a one bite rule state, which means that a dog bite victim who lives in Texas must prove the dog owner’s negligence in order to recover damages. Negligence can take the form of either negligent handling or “negligence per se”, the latter involving a violation of a statute. The one bite rule refers to the fact that the dog owner will be held liable for injuries caused by his/her dog only if they knew about their dog’s vicious or dangerous propensities, based on past manifestations.

Also known as a one free bite state, Texas protects dog owners from liability as to the first bite caused by the dog, unless liability can be based upon knowledge ( the legal term is “scienter”), intentional behavior or negligence ( including negligence per se for violation an animal control law such as a leash law).

Other states oftentimes hold the dog owner automatically responsible if his/her dog bites or attacks another person. These states are known for basing liability on statutes, thus attaching liability in the absence of knowledge of the viciousness of the dog on the dog owner’s end. States such as California, Hawaii, and Delaware are known as statutory strict liability states.

Originating in common law, the one bite rule has been modified by some states not only by statute but also by case law. Mixed dog bite law states mix the one bite rule and strict liability, which is typically imposed under certain circumstances or for certain types of losses. For instance, Colorado imposes strict liability upon the dog owner only for serious bodily injury and only economic damages under strict liability.

It’s worth noting that in some states, the doctrine of Premiss Liability is applied hen the dog bite victim sustains injuries caused by a dog on the dog owner’s property. Several states also provide exceptions to liability upon the dog owner (.g. the victim is a vet, trespasser, provoked the dog, assumed the risk of the attack etc.)

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Marshall v. Ranne Case Summary

In this 1974 animal bite case, the plaintiff, Paul Marshall sued John Ranne ( whose occupation was raising hogs) for damages resulting from injuries caused by the defendant’s hog, that had escaped from Ranne’s farm onto the plaintiff’s land in Van Zandt County. Although the plaintiff had knowledge of this hog’s viciousness ( as he testified that the same hog had charged him and his wife on several occasions prior to the severe bite) he left his house and walked toward his pickup to go back to Dallas.

The jury found that the plaintiff voluntarily exposed himself to the risk of the hog attack. The Texas Supreme Court recognized that a finding of viciousness is not necessary in a negligence claim, although it is so in a strict liability claim. The trial court ruled in favor of Ranne and the plaintiff appealed.

Your Rights As a Dog Bite Victim

As a dog bite/attack victim, you have the right to pursue compensation for personal injury and/or property damage. If you live in Texas or the dog attack took place in Texas, you need to show that the dog owner had knowledge of his.her dog’s dangerous or vicious inclinations ( the dog has bitten someone before) in order to recover damages.

If you’re filing a negligent handling or negligence per se claim, you also must prove several facts. A reliable Texas dog bite attorney will help you navigate the legalese and do their best to win your case. This is why you need proper legal representation. Your Texas dog bite lawyer will aggressively represent you so as to recover the compensation that you rightfully deserve for all the pain and suffering you’ve been going through.

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Find the Right Attorney in Houston, TX

If you are the victim or a loved one is the victim of a dog bite or dog attack, it’s in your best interest to retain a reputable, savvy, and experienced dog bite lawyer in Houston, TX as soon as possible. The importance of finding a competent and well-respected Texas personal injury lawyer who specializes in dog bite/attack cases cannot be stressed enough.

For a favorable outcome of your dog bite /attack case, a Houston dog bite attorney who has in-depth knowledge of the one bite rule and draws upon their expertise, experience to provide you with the aggressive legal representation that you need is your best bet. The best dog bite lawyers in Houston, TX offer free consultations, so be sure to take advantage of a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case with a top-rated dog bite attorney.

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