Whether you love dogs, own a dog or are afraid of dogs and try to steer clear of them at all times, you have a right to reasonably expect safety if you visit someone who owns a dog or encounter such animals in public. A dog can cause substantial property damage or severe, even life-threatening, injuries. If a dangerous dog bites you or your child, it’s critical to have, at least, a basic knowledge of Texas laws regarding such issues.
For instance, what constitutes “dangerous” under Texas laws regarding dogs? There are statutes on the books that specifically define the term, some of which refer to the enclosure where a particular owner is keeping a dog. If a dog bites you, it is important to know whether a dangerous dog code violation has occurred.
Was the dog enclosed in an area designed to prevent it from leaving?
Texas law requires owners of dangerous dogs to enclose them in areas that are sturdy and secure enough to prevent a dog from leaving the area by its own accord. One may secure an enclosure by fencing or some other structure, as long as it prevents the dog from getting out.
Does Texas law consider all dogs dangerous?
It is not the size of your dog or its breed that makes it dangerous under Texas law. Current statutes state that a dog is dangerous if it has attacked someone without being provoked in a location outside of its secured enclosure, which the owner believed would prevent the animal from leaving on its own.
In this state, if your neighbor owns a dangerous dog, he or she must register the animal with a local animal control authority. The dog must remain on a leash and controlled by its owner at all times, as well. Furthermore, the owner of a dangerous dog in Texas must demonstrate financial ability or purchase liability insurance to cover damages from dog bites up to $100,000.
You can report a dog and request an investigation
If you have suffered damages from a dangerous dog and do not believe the owner has complied with Texas statutes regarding such animals, you may request the local animal control authority to investigate the situation. Such an authority may notify a dog owner, in writing, that an investigation has led to the conclusion that the dog in question is dangerous.
The owner would then have to fully comply with all statutes pertaining to dangerous dogs. In some cases, the local animal control authority may demand removal or destruction of a dangerous dog.
Who foots the bill for damages?
In Texas, a dog owner can be held accountable for damages if his or her pet causes you injury. Such injuries do not necessarily have to occur from dog bites. For example, if a dog rushes at you and knocks you down, and you suffer injuries, liability laws still apply.
In the past, recovering dog bite victims have often sought financial recovery for their losses in court. Many have received court-awarded compensation that has helped cover medical bills, lost wages and other expenses associated with the incident that resulted in their injuries.