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Navigating Texas’ “One Bite” Rule for Dog Bite Cases

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Dog bites are a common occurrence in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. The majority of these dog bites occur at the dog owner’s home, and around half of those are a child. If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, you may be wondering about liability for the bite. Texas lawmakers have long had to deal with this issue on their own terms. In this post, we will discuss the “one bite” rule, which is a common way that dog bite cases in Texas are handled.

When it comes to dog bite cases in Texas, the state operates under the “one bite” rule. This legal concept essentially means that a dog owner is only liable for any damages caused by their dog if they knew or should have known that the dog had a propensity to bite. In other words, the owner is not responsible for the first bite, but once the dog has bitten someone, they are now aware of its dangerous proclivities and must take appropriate action to prevent future bites.

Negligence for Dog Bite Cases

Texas does not have a strict liability law for dog bites. This means that in order to hold a dog owner liable for injuries, you must prove that they were negligent in handling the dog. Negligence involves four elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. First, the laws of Texas impose a duty upon all dog owners to prevent their dogs from causing harm to others. Next, you must prove that the dog owner breached this duty. In other words, you must demonstrate that the dog owner did not use reasonable care to prevent your injuries. Third, you must prove that this breach caused your damages. Finally, you must prove that the dog owner was negligent in handling their dog.

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog in Texas, you should investigate your legal options right away. Texas law holds dog owners accountable for injuries caused by their dogs, but only if they were negligent in handling the dog(s). If a dog has bitten someone and the owner was aware of the dangerous nature of that dog, they may be liable for any injuries caused.

Strict Liability in Dog Bite Cases

Dog bites can cause serious physical and emotional harm to their victims. In some cases, dog owners may be held strictly liable for the injuries caused by their pets. This means that they are responsible for any harm caused by their dogs, regardless of whether they were negligent or knew about their dog’s violent tendencies.


In Texas, strict liability for dog bites applies when a person is bitten by a dog while lawfully on private property or in a public place. However, if the person was trespassing or provoking the dog, the dog owner may not be held strictly liable. Texas has a comprehensive dog bite law that covers everything from the initial bite to veterinary bills, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.

Criminal Liability for Dog Bites

Dog bites can sometimes result in serious injuries or even fatalities, leading to potential criminal liability for the owner. While civil liability focuses on compensating the victim for their injuries, criminal liability involves punishment for the owner’s actions. The specific criminal charges and consequences for dog bites can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances of the case. In Texas, criminal liability for dog bites can arise under various statutes, depending on the severity of the incident and the nature of the injuries caused. Some potential charges include:


1. Criminal Negligence: If a dog owner acts with criminal negligence, resulting in serious bodily injury or death, they may be charged with a crime. Criminal negligence typically involves a reckless disregard for the safety of others. Prosecutors would need to prove that the owner knew or should have known that their dog posed a risk and failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent harm.

2. Aggravated Assault/Aggravated Injury: In extreme cases where a dog attack causes severe or life-threatening injuries, the owner may face charges of aggravated assault or aggravated injury. These charges involve intentionally or knowingly causing serious bodily harm or using a deadly weapon during the attack.

3. Animal Cruelty: If the circumstances surrounding the dog bite suggest animal cruelty, the owner may face criminal charges based on specific animal cruelty laws. This might apply in cases where the owner encouraged or trained the dog to be aggressive, leading to the attack.

In Conclusion

In the wake of a dog bite, you may be wondering whether you should pursue a dog bite lawsuit. The good news is that if a person has been injured by a dog, Texas law provides them with legal recourse. If you were the person bitten by a dog, you should discuss your case with an attorney to determine your best course of action. It’s important to consider all the evidence and factors that come into play when considering filing for an injury claim.

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