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What should I do if I get bit by a dog?

Sep 14, 2020 | Firm News

A male German shepherd bites a man by the hand.

Getting bit by a dog can lead to serious injuries. The person who was bit should wash the wound and seek medical attention as needed. The treating physician may decide the victim requires additional treatment such as the use of antibiotics to reduce the risk of an infection and potential future surgical procedures.

Are there any legal ramifications for the owner of the dog?

Texas state law requires dog owners vaccinate their pets for rabies and follow a veterinarian’s recommended vaccination schedule. Local ordinances may have additional restrictions. State law also has criminal penalties to help better ensure the public is safe from dangerous dogs.

What about remedies for victims?

Texas law does not address civil liability for these accidents, but previous case law provides guidance. In Marshall v. Ranne, the Texas Supreme Court developed the “one bite rule.” This rule essentially states that if an animal has bitten in the past, the court will likely hold the owner automatically liable for any future accidents. If the animal does not have this history, the victim must establish that the owner had a reason to believe the animal was dangerous to win a civil case against the owner.

Why would a victim want to win a civil case against the dog’s owner?

In severe dog bite accidents, the victim’s injuries can lead to hospital bills and missed wages. A civil case can hold the owner financially responsible for these expenses, helping to better ensure the victim can move on with their life after the accident.