If you've been bitten by a dog in Texas, you may need to investigate to find out who is really responsible for your injury.
Dog bite cases often happen to innocent bystanders, and unfortunately, there is usually someone else at blame here. There are regulations that dog owners and/or property owners must follow, and if the owners or landlords decide to disregard these regulations, they are violating the conduct codes associated with dog ownership. Sometimes, property maintenance of a dog falls on the owner directly, and other times it may fall into the category of premises liability. This article will discuss how these cases differ and how you'll know if you have a viable case against a property owner for negligence of animal health and safety codes.
The regular class of dog owners
All dog owners are held to some types of safety standards. These may just seem like common sense, but are actually enforced under Texas compliance codes. Anyone with a dog must keep the dog leashed at all times, and if they are not leashed or inside a residence, they must have a secure enclosure. The secure enclose is usually specifically defined by the county the dog owner resides in. If a dog owner has an aggressive dog, they must warn any visitors to the property and/or contain the animal so that it is not able to cause any harm to the visitor. Any visitors that are invitees(mutual benefit), licensees(benefit of the licensee), or infant trespassers, would have a premises liability case against the property owner if they were injured by a dog.
The "dangerous dog" class of dog owners
People that own dogs that are considered "dangerous" are required to follow more regulations and codes than regular dog owners. A "dangerous dog" is deemed dangerous by two definitions. One of these is if the dog has caused injury to someone in the past through an unprovoked attack, and the second definition is any dog that has committed unprovoked acts which lead a reasonable person to believe that they might cause harm to another person. Like any other dogs, dangerous dogs must also be kept on leashes or confined to a residence or secure enclosure, but there are a few more requirements, and some depend on the county that the owner and dog live in. According to section 822.041 of the Texas Health and Safety Codes, a "secure enclosure" for a dangerous dog is defined in the following ways:
Sec. 822.041. (4) "Secure enclosure" means a fenced area or structure that is:
- capable of preventing the entry of the general public, including children;
- capable of preventing the escape or release of a dog;
- clearly marked as containing a dangerous dog; AND
- in conformance with the requirements for enclosures established by the local animal control authority.
What happens if a dangerous dog owner does not follow proper safety codes?
According to Texas Health and Safety Codes 822.044 and 822.005, the owner of a dangerous dog can be charged for a class C misdemeanor or a Felony if the dog makes an unprovoked attack and injures someone outside the dog's enclosure or at a location other than the owner's property and causes serious injuries.
When might a property owner who is not also the dog owner be responsible?
A property owner may be responsible for injuries sustained by a dangerous dog if they had knowledge of the dog being dangerous and did not make sure the dog owner was following proper procedures. This could occur in an apartment complex, for example, if the landlord had knowledge of a previous dog attack, or of a registered dangerous animal, and did not take the precautions to make sure other residents were safe.
In what instances can you not file a claim?
You may not be able to file a claim if you have been bitten by a chained or otherwise contained dog, if you trespass through another person's property where the animal has been properly contained, or if you first provoked the dog by causing it injuring or inflicting harm.
What to do if you have unjustly sustained a dog bite wound
In some cases, you may be unsure if the property owner should be held responsible for your dog bite, or if you simply have a claim against the owner of the dog. If you are unsure, it is helpful to get an expert opinion. The attorneys at Grossman Law have handled numerous dog bite cases and will be able to answer any questions you may have, any time of day or night. We answer our phones 24/7, and unless you win your case, you never have to pay us a dime. Contact us with your questions at (855)326-0000. We understand that it is often very painful and traumatic to be bitten by a dangerous dog, and we would like to help you seek the justice you deserve.