Blog Post

Dog Bites and Animal Attacks

The Law Offices of Adrian Crane, P.C. April 27, 2015

Injuries sustained from animal attacks such as dog bites are serious. At our firm we limit our practice to just personal injury cases including dog bite cases, to obtain the compensation you deserve. A victim’s damages are often fortunately covered by most homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies purchased by dog owners, and by general liability policies that insure businesses and public entities.

Dangerous Dog Law – State Of Texas

There are a number of laws that regard your ability to recover monetary damages for injuries sustained during a dog or animal attack.

Regulations pertaining to “dangerous dogs” are found in the Texas Health and Safety Code in Title 10 Chapter 822.

A “dangerous dog” is defined as a dog that has made an unprovoked attack on a person or persons causing bodily injury in a place other than a qualified enclosure. Or, the dog commits unprovoked acts other than from inside a qualified enclosure and those acts cause a person to reasonably believe that the dog will attack and cause bodily injury to that person. Texas Health and Safety Code 822.041(2).

Once an owner learns their dog is dangerous, they are required to register the dog with animal control and restrain the dog at all times. Failure to do so can result in both civil and criminal responsibility. Texas Health and Safety Code 822.044.

Unfortunately, the Texas law contains what many believe is a glaring flaw. If the owner has no knowledge of a prior attack or qualifying acts of aggressiveness that make the owner perceive an attack as likely, the law does not apply. Thus, a person can keep any type of dog he likes on his property and may claim a lack of knowledge that the dog was aggressive or had attacked anyone. Furthermore, another problem is that since the law only applies to “dangerous dogs,” there is no proactive restraint requirement imposed upon dogs that have not yet attacked anyone. This state’s statute is effectively a codification of the state common law often referred to as the “One Free Bite Rule”.

The Texas Health and Safety Code allows municipalities and counties to enact their own more stringent dog laws, however, it prohibits the enactment of laws that are breed-specific. Thus, a law stating that German shepherd, pit bull or Rottweiler owners are charged with knowledge that their dog is dangerous because of the breed of the dog, is prohibited. This is why many people believe we need breed-specific legislation in Texas.

Dangerous Dog and Leash Laws

Several municipalities and counties have adopted stringent requirements preventing their dogs from running freely and unleashed or being left unattended. Dangerous dog laws are ordinances that give the municipality more power to deal with potentially dangerous dogs. They typically give animal control departments the power to register, remove and euthanize dogs that have shown aggression or that are known dangerous breeds. Determining the breed of the dog that attacked you or your loved one can be very important because it may play a role in what specific requirements the municipality places on the owner. Some of these laws place higher duties of care on the owners, including strict liability for damage done by a known dangerous dog or breed such as a Pit Bull.

Leash laws are similar to dangerous dog laws and can be helpful to a dog bite case. They are laws created by municipalities to prevent dogs from running at large. Depending on the city, the leash law may impose absolute responsibility on the dog owner if the animal is off a leash outside the home or an enclosed space controlled by the owner. These laws may, in some cases, give an injured person an additional way to hold an irresponsible pet owner responsible.

Having a skilled dog bite attack attorney who knows how to find and apply these municipal codes and ordinances that apply to your case can make the difference between winning and losing your case. At The Law Offices of Adrian Crane, our attorneys will research the laws applicable to your case fight for your rights to the fullest extent under the law.

Lillian’s Law

Lillian’s law is named after Lillian Stiles, a 76 year old woman who was mauled to death by a pack of dogs that escaped from a 3 foot high fence in her neighbor’s yard. They came onto her property and attacked her while she was mowing the yard. Jose Hernandez, the dogs’ owner, was indicted for criminally negligent homicide but was later acquitted. Lillian’s law was enacted to give more jail time to criminal penalties for persons found criminally negligent when their animal injures or kills someone. This law only applies to dogs running at large and requires a very high burden of proof—the prosecutor must show the owner should have been aware of a substantial risk that someone would be seriously injured or killed by his dog.

Lillian’s Law is important when the owner is convicted by the state under this law; it is a felony. Evidence of this conviction helps prove negligence, and can help in the recovery of punitive damages against a grossly negligent or reckless animal owner. Attorneys at The Law Offices of Adrian Crane know how to use these convictions to your advantage in your case for civil damages and personal injuries caused by a dog bite or attack.

The information given above demonstrates why you need an experienced dog bite attorney to advise you and represent you if you or a loved one has been injured.

Additionally, only about 16,000 dog bite victims receive compensation each year even though about 5 million Americans are bitten. For these reasons, the services of an attorney at The Law Offices of Adrian Crane are needed by you if you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog. We will render services without charge unless and until money is recovered.

If you or a loved one has suffered any kind of dog bite or animal attack, you owe it to yourself and your family to hire a lawyer who specializes only in representing injured victims. Contact a lawyer at The Law Offices of Adrian Crane by calling or contacting us through the case evaluation form located on this website.

At our personal injury firm, you speak directly with an attorney, not just secretaries and paralegals. A Spanish-speaking attorney and staff members are available for your assistance. Se habla Español.

Attorneys associated with The Law Offices of Adrian Crane handle cases across the state of Texas. Our principal office in north Texas is in Dallas however we are happy to welcome cases from anywhere in Texas, regardless of where you live or where the accident took place.