How Texas Leash Laws Impact Dog Bite Cases

The implementation of Texas leash laws on a dog.

Dog bite injuries can have severe physical and emotional consequences for victims. A dog bite can result in a range of injuries, including cuts and lacerations, puncture wounds, infections, scarring, and long-term psychological trauma.

Because of the potential for serious injuries caused by a dog bite, many Texas municipalities have passed dog leash laws, which require that dogs be leashed when in public. In a dog bite case, whether a dog owner complied with Texas dog leash laws can impact whether the owner was acting responsibly when they had their dog in public.

Dog Leash Laws in Texas

Texas does not have a state-wide leash law. But many Texas municipalities have enacted leash laws (also known as “running-at-large” laws), which require that dogs be leashed at all times unless they are in a designated off-leash area or are fenced in on private property.

Violating a Texas leash law is usually not a criminal offense, but Texas leash laws can become a factor when a dog causes harm to someone else. If an unleashed dog bites or causes harm to another person, there is a greater likelihood the dog owner will be found liable.

Impact of Texas Leash Law on Liability

A violation of a municipal dog leash law in Texas can have an impact on proving liability in a Texas dog bite case. In Texas, there are three ways to hold a dog owner liable for injuries caused by their dog.

  • Negligence. When a dog bite causes personal injuries, the victim can recover financial compensation by proving the dog owner was negligent. Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care under the same or similar circumstances. A dog bite victim can prove negligence by showing the dog owner failed to use reasonable care.
  • Strict Liability. The injured victim can hold the dog owner strictly liable if the dog is known to be vicious or dangerous and the victim’s injuries resulted from the dog’s dangerous nature. A dog can be labeled dangerous if it has bitten or scratched someone on three separate occasions, scratched or bitten someone to the extent that an attending physician presented an affidavit to a health authority stating the person’s life may have been endangered by the dog, or if the dog killed another dog, cat, domestic pet, or livestock on at least one occasion so severely that a veterinarian presented an affidavit to a health authority stating the animal's life was seriously endangered.
  • Negligence Per Se. A dog owner may be presumed to have acted negligently if they violated a law and caused an injury the law was intended to prevent. Negligence per se may be available in cases of dog bite injuries where the dog owner violated animal control laws, such as those requiring that a dog be on a leash.

Even though violation of a local leash law does not automatically entitle a dog bite victim to compensation, evidence that the dog owner violated a local leash law can be used to show that the dog owner was acting negligently.

If someone walks their dog without a leash, they are not acting responsibly. This increases the likelihood they will be found to be negligent. If the dog owner is aware their dog is dangerous, compliance with Texas dog leash laws is an even greater concern, and violation of a Texas leash law can be used to hold a dog owner strictly liable. If the dog owner was in violation of the municipal leash law in Texas, the attack can be considered evidence of their negligence per se.

Seeking Compensation After a Dog Bite Injury

If you were bitten by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation for:

  • Medical care and treatment
  • Lost wages
  • Lost future earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Disfigurement

Obtaining full and fair compensation after a dog bite injury is not always easy. The dog bite injury lawyers at McKinney Vos can help. We can answer your questions, assess your situation, and provide advice on whether we think you have a case. Then, we can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Although it is not a requirement, we generally investigate whether the dog owner has an insurance policy that could pay for the cost of your damages. Many dog bite injuries are covered by the dog owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy.

What Should You Do After a Dog Bite Injury?

Seeking compensation after a dog bite injury can be a complicated and challenging process. If you were injured by a dog bite and need legal advice and representation, contact the personal injury lawyers at McKinney Vos today. Our lawyers are dedicated to seeking justice and maximizing financial compensation after a dog bite injury.

Categories: Personal Injury