Texas Dog Bite



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The One Bite Rule


Dogs are a relatively friendly species of pets and have been domesticated over the millennia to live side by side with humans. Unfortunately, certain dog breeds are more prone to violence than others, although most dogs within these breeds never indicate underlying violent tendencies. On the other hand, there are dog breeds that are not known for violence, although individual dogs may exhibit violent tendencies. Dogs are unpredictable which makes it all the more frightening when a dog lunges at your toddler while on a walk. Most Texas cities have “leash laws” in place in an attempt to prevent dangerous accidents from occurring. However, if a dog bite attack does occur, Texas has court-mandated laws that help compensate victims after an attack.

The One Bite Rule was developed in the Texas Supreme Court in 1974. The One Bite Rule was developed from what is known as the “common law of torts” or judge-made law pertaining to personal injury cases. The Texas Supreme Court relied on the Restatement of Torts which is a traditional doctrine traced back to English common law, which states that a person is liable for the harm inflicted by a domestic animal. The doctrine further held that a victim is able to recover compensation after an attack if the animal had previously attacked a person or indicated an imminent attack, and the owner was aware of this behavior. Both conditions must be met in order for a victim to recover damages.

Many critics contend that the One Bite Rule is sympathetic to dog owners as it allows them to skirt liability unless it can be proven that they were aware of a prior dog bite attack. This can be a difficult aspect to prove in any dog bite attack case. However, in certain situations, a victim may be able to recover damage if they are able to show the dog bite owner acted negligently in caring for their dog. The negligence standard may be found by looking to what a reasonable dog owner would do in a similar situation. For example, a dog owner who allows a half-starved dog to roam near a children’s park without a leash on could be considered negligent in certain circumstances.

A dog owner who violates Texas law or city law may be subject to criminal charges at the same time as you attempt to bring a civil claim against the owner. It is important to keep in mind that both civil and criminal charges may be brought concurrently and neither outcome will influence the other.

If a victim is able to prove that the dog bite owner met the One Bite Rule or acted negligent in their actions, they may be able to recover the following after a severe dog bite attack:

  • Medical expenses
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Future earnings
  • Pain and suffering


If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog bite attack, do not hesitate to contact the Malley Law Firm. Tony Malley understands the pain that occurs after a dog bite attack occurs to your family and the delicate situation this may present. However, it is important that the dog owner be held accountable for their actions, as well as their dog’s actions, and to ensure that the dog does not attack anyone in the future. Contact our Houston and Beaumont offices today for your initial free consultation.



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