Modified: November 8, 2022

Texas Ranks 3rd in the Nation for Dog Bites: Is Texas Dog Bite Law Different from California

Texas Ranks 3rd in the Nation for Dog Bites: Is Texas Dog Bite Law Different from California
Texas Ranks 3rd in the Nation for Dog Bites: Is Texas Dog Bite Law Different from California

According to State Farm Insurance, Texas ranked third in the country for the most dog bites, making it a severe threat to mail carriers and other Texan residents.

The Lone Star state racked up 236 dog bite claims in 2012, with insurance companies paying out $4.3 million in compensation for dog bite injuries. It puts the state next to California and Illinois, the top 2 states for the most payout for dog bite claims.

Dog bites can cause long-lasting injuries and severe emotional trauma to the victim. Ehline Law and our California and Texas dog bite attorneys help injured victims fight for their rights and recover the compensation they deserve.

Contact us now to learn more about your rights as an injured victim.

Texas Ranks 3rd in the Nation for Dog Bites in a 2012 Report: San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas Makes It to the Top 15

The US Postal Service released a report in 2012 that listed the top cities in the country for the most dog attacks on their postal service employees or letter carriers.

2012 insurance report revealed concerning news that three cities in Texas, San Antonio (42), Houston (27), and Dallas (21), made it on the list of the top 15 cities with the most recorded dog bite incidents.

According to the US Postal Service, the most famous last words before the dog attack were “it won’t bite.”

2016 State Farm Insurance Report Reveals $3.1 Million in Payouts for Dog Bite Injuries

A much more recent 2016 State Farm Insurance report puts Texas at number 5 on the list of states with the most dog bite claims, a drop from its previous third place.

In 2016, there were about 165 claims made for dog bites totaling $3.1 million, an average of $33,253 per claim.

Although Texas has twice the population of Illinois, it ranks behind The Prairie State for the highest number of payouts.

You may want to believe that more people means more dog bite incidents, but that is not the case as there are other factors, including the number of dogs, the severity of the bite, and frequency of contact between dogs and people, that contribute to the many attacks in a state.

Children Are the Most Vulnerable, Followed by Mail Carriers

The State Farm’s report also sheds light on the most vulnerable group of individuals stating that children make up half of the victims of dog bites, followed by letter carriers and the elderly.

In 2016, 6,700 postal workers suffered from dog bite injuries across the United States, with 200 more reported attacks than in 2015.

However, if you break down the number city-wise, Los Angeles ranks number one for the most dog attacks, followed by Houston in Texas.

Texas Does Not Have a Civil Statute for Dog Bites

Unlike many states, there is no dog bite statute in Texas. However, that does not mean no one is liable for dog bite incidents in the Lone Star state.

In the 1994 case of Marshall v. Ranne, the court relied on Restatement of Torts section 509, a doctrine that holds an individual responsible for any harm caused by their domestic animal.

The doctrine allows the victim to recover compensation from the dog owner if:

  • The dog has a violent past, either biting someone or acting like it wants to
  • The defendant knew about their pet’s previous conduct.

Texas Supreme Court stated that Texas follows the one-bite rule about injuries arising from dog bites, meaning that the animal’s first bite is “free” regarding the dog owner’s liability.

After the first bite, the dog owner must be careful about their dog’s aggressive nature and take reasonable precautions to ensure that their furry companion does not bite any other person.

The first bite is a warning, and any other incident following the first event holds the dog owner liable.

Negligence as an Alternative to the One-bite Rule in Texas

In Texas, an injured victim can use negligence law as an alternative to the “one-bite” rule.

For a dog bite claim in Texas under negligence law, the injured victim must show the following:

  • The defendant owned or possessed the dog
  • The defendant had the duty to ensure that their dog did not cause harm to others
  • The defendant breached that duty
  • The breach resulted in injuries to the plaintiff.

Failure to prove any one of the elements of negligence law, the court will dismiss the case.

Texas personal injury laws apply to dog bites and any other injury from the interaction with the animal.

Suppose a big dog jumps over a stranger causing him to fall and break his wrist.

In such situations, the injured victim may pursue a lawsuit against the dog owner for the injury. However, before they can do that, they must show that the dog owners were aware of their dog’s aggressive nature and failed to take reasonable care to prevent harm.

Is There Criminal Liability for Dog Bites in Texas?

Besides civil liability, under Texas Health and Safety Code section 822.005, the law enforcement officers may charge the dog owner with a felony if:

  • If the owner is aware of the risks that their dog may bite or harm someone and yet refuses to do anything about it by failing to secure the dog.
  • The owner is aware that their pet is a “dangerous” dog, and the animal attacks a person outside a secure enclosure.
  • The person suffers serious bodily injuries or dies.

Defenses for a Dog Bite Claim

When an injured person pursues a dog bite claim against the negligent dog owner, they must prove that the defendant was aware of their dog’s vicious nature.

The defendant can argue that they were unaware of their dog’s dangerous propensities, which can work in their favor, especially if the owner tried their best to control the animal.

Texas is a “modified” comparative negligence state, meaning that the defendant can reduce their degree of fault and pin some blame on the plaintiff, especially if the dog bite incident took place on the dog owner’s property.

They can also argue that the plaintiff was trespassing on their property, meaning they were also partially at fault for the incident.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Ehline Law

Unlike Texas, California has strict liability for dog bites. Under the Civil Code § 3342, the law holds the dog owner strictly liable for any injuries caused to another person, even if the dog has no previous record of aggression or bites.

Pursuing dog bite claims can be challenging in California, especially if the case falls outside California’s strict liability statute. In such situations, the injured victim must present sufficient evidence proving that the dog owner was at fault.

If you suffered dog bite injuries in California, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation with our California dog bite lawyers, as you may qualify for compensation.

Top Notch American Injury Lawyer, Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline

Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.

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