While many states have specific laws that address who should be financially liable for injuries caused by someone’s pet, Texas does not. The question of who holds civil fault for this sort of injury has been answered in the form of various court decisions, which have established an informal but fairly consistent precedent for how courts rule on these claims today.
Of course, “consistent” here does not mean “universally applicable,” and there is still a lot of subjectivity in how dog bite liability in Houston works on a case-by-case basis. Support from a skilled dog bite attorney can be key to establishing that someone else should be legally liable for your injury.
Negligence Versus “Strict Liability” in Dog Bite Cases
There are two basic legal theories under which a dog owner may be held financially liable for injuries their dog causes someone else by biting them. The legal concept that is more broadly relevant to most types of dog bite claims is “negligence,” which works the same for dog bites as it does for most other personal injuries. In a nutshell, someone who can prove that they were injured by another person’s dog and that the dog was only able to injure them because the owner was reckless or careless in keeping their dog well-trained and under control can hold that dog owner legally liable for the consequences of that bite injury.
When a dog has already bitten or acted aggressively towards someone else, the owner is expected to take additional precautions to keep that dog under control and prevent them from harming anyone else. In these circumstances, the owner can be held liable for an ensuing bite injury even if it did not stem from their negligent behavior. This concept is “strict liability”—the second legal theory under which a Houston attorney may be able to establish dog bite liability.
How “Comparative Fault” Could Impact Recovery
Even if a dog’s owner is legally liable for their dog biting someone else, the bitten person can also be found partially at fault for their own injuries. For example, an injured person may be assigned a percentage of liability because they were trespassing on the dog owner’s property, provoking, or taunting the dog. Regardless of the specific form it takes, acting irresponsibly in a way that unnecessarily increases the chances of getting hurt could be held against an injured person as a percentage of “comparative fault.”
As per Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code §§ 33.001 through 33.017, anyone who holds more than 50 percent of the blame for their own injury cannot recover any civil compensation, even if someone else also holds some fault. Any lesser percentage of fault assigned to an injured person would be taken out of their final damage award—for example, someone found 25 percent to blame for their own injury could only recover for 75 percent of their resulting damages. Working with a lawyer in Houston is essential for disputing allegations of shared liability in dog bite cases.
Learn More About Dog Bite Liability From a Houston Attorney
Holding someone else legally liable for their dog attacking you can be a deceptively complicated process, especially if that person thinks you were partly or primarily at fault for the incident. Fortunately, you have help available from knowledgeable legal professionals who have helped people like you get favorable results from similar cases.
Dog bite liability in Houston can be much easier to understand when you have guidance from a capable attorney. Call today to discuss your potential claim.