This is the next post in our series on the handling of dog bite cases in Fort Worth, Texas. Our last article provided an overview of topics which this series will be addressing and it also stressed the need to contact a personal injury attorney if you or a loved one have been injured. It is important that you contact counsel sooner, rather than later, in order to make sure that the scene of the incident is promptly visited and that the case is properly investigated. In this article we will discuss a topic which can sometimes lead to confusion – the instances in which a dog owner may actually be held responsible for attacks by their pet. If you require assistance then contact a lawyer immediately.
Texas is different from other states when it comes to owner liability for dog bites. Some states impose “strict liability” upon an owner for injuries caused by their dog. This means that an owner will be responsible for such injuries regardless of the steps they took to make sure that the animal was not a danger to the public. In Texas, by contrast, an owner will only be liable for a dog attack if they failed to take “reasonable steps” in ensuring that the animal would not be a danger to the public. If a Fort Worth area owner failed to take such steps, and that failure is what led to a victim’s injuries, then the owner may be liable to the victim.
The above legal standard is best explained through an example. Say that a dog owner has an tall enclosed fence (that a dog cannot jump over) around their yard. Now say that the owner also has “no trespassing” and “beware of dog” signs in their yard. If someone sticks their hand through the fence, and is bitten by the dog, then there is a good chance that the owner would not be liable. Now say that the owner did not have any warning signs and that their fence was short enough for the dog to jump over. If someone is simply walking by the property and the dog jumps the fence and attacks them, then there is a good chance that the owner would be liable for any injuries sustained.
How a Jury will rule in any given situation will always depend on the specific facts of the case. It is, therefore, best to consult with an attorney about your situation.
An important issue in any litigation is how the defendant will compensate the victim. In dog bite or mauling cases, fortunately, a claim may typically be made against the defendant’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies. This means that an insurance adjuster will be assigned to the case and that it may be possible to obtain a settlement without going to trial. It is vital that you retain a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in dealing with such policies. We suggest that you retain a firm which employs multiple attorneys and an on-staff investigator. This is true regardless of whether you were injured in Fort Worth, Dallas, or elsewhere in Texas.