Can You Sue for a Dog Bite?

Over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year, and about one out of every five bites get infected.

The most common dog bite victims are children, and they are more likely to be severely injured from a dog bite. A lot of these bites are a result of interacting with dogs the children are already familiar with.

The good news is if you or your child being bitten by a dog, the dog’s owner can sometimes be held liable for any damages.

Take a look at this complete dog bite guide to figure out what your legal rights are and when you need to get an injury lawyer after sustaining a dog bite.

Who Is Liable for My Injuries?

Every state has its own dog bite rules, but Texas is a “one bite” state.

This used to mean an owner was only held liable when their dog bit someone if they had reason to think the dog would bite. Generally, that would give most dogs one free bite because the owner didn’t realize the dog would bite the first time.

Now the “one bite” law doesn’t necessarily allow a dog one free bite. Instead, if an owner knows the dog is an aggressive bread or if the dog has an aggressive personality, they can be held liable even for the first bite.

It all comes down to whether the owner should have known the dog might bite someone, and if they should have known that, did they take the proper precautions to keep their dog from biting.

This can make the case very complicated.

Give Me an Example

Imagine you go over to someone’s house, and their dog just had surgery. However, the owner didn’t warn you their dog had surgery, so they didn’t tell you the dog might be a little sensitive or protective.

Because you don’t know the dog just had surgery, you try to pet the dog. In doing so, you aggravate the place of surgery and are bitten.

In this case, the owner could be held liable because they should have known the dog was more likely to bite in this circumstance.

Establishing Negligence

In order to recover damages from an owner after a dog bite, you have to prove the owner was acting negligently with the dog.

If they knew the dog was likely to bite someone and they don’t take the right precautions, they are being negligent.

An owner that lets their aggressive dog walk without a leash is behaving negligently because the dog could easily bite a passing pedestrian. An owner who lets their aggressive dog run free on their property that doesn’t have a fence is acting negligently because the dog can easily leave the property.

If the dog bit could have been avoided if the owner had used reasonable care with the dog, a court will most likely find the owner negligent.

A Dog Owner's Defense

An owner’s biggest defense is usually lack of knowledge. If they did not have any reason to believe their dog would bite someone and if they were not acting negligently, they may not be liable for the attack.

This kind of situation may look something like this:

A dog bites a passing pedestrian during a walk, but the owner was being responsible and walking the dog with a leash.


An owner will also not be held liable for damages if the person who was bitten was trespassing on private property.

This can also apply to people who committed a felony against the dog owner and got bit in the process.

What Dog Bite Damages Can I Be Compensated For?

Finding the amount of compensation for a dog attack is difficult, and you’ll need the help of a dog bite injury attorney. But usually, you can be compensated for emotional damage as well as physical damages.

These categories include things like:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Current medical treatment (and future if needed)
  • Counseling
  • Medications
  • Damaged clothing or accessories
  • Future disability
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Loss of earnings from work due to the attack

The Physical Dangers of a Dog Bite

Dog bites can be incredibly serious.

A single dog bite can cause major scarring, and infection. Worst-case scenarios can cause finger amputation, nerve damage, pain disorders, and if the dog is very large, sometimes even death.

What to Do After a Dog Attack

You’ll want to get as much information from the dog owner as you can. The more you have, the better your injury lawyer will be able to help you.

If you can, get the owner’s name and number. You should also get the names and numbers of any witnesses.

Seek medical attention right away if the bite is serious.

Then gather evidence. This could be medical bills, pictures of the injuries, incident reports, and pictures of the scene if you are able to get them.

How to Find a Good Injury Lawyer

The best injury lawyers are experienced and will be dedicated to your case. One good way to ensure this is to get a lawyer who has a contingency fee.

This fee might seem like a nuisance, but a lawyer who doesn’t work on contingency might not be as motivated to win your case. They will get paid whether or not they win.

You’ll also want to find an injury lawyer who will keep you updated on the case and who is easy to contact.

Don't Wait to File Your Dog Bite Lawsuit

The state of Texas gives people two years to file this kind of lawsuit. This time period starts the day you get attacked, and anything filed after two years will usually be dismissed.

After you get the medical attention you need, your next step should be finding a good injury lawyer. Remember, dog bite lawsuits can get complicated, so you’ll need an injury lawyer to help you win.

Are you still looking for an injury lawyer for your dog attack case? Contact us and we’ll get you the help you need.

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