What Texas Being a “One Bite Rule” State Means - The Green Law Firm
March 26, 2020

What Texas Being a “One Bite Rule” State Means

What Texas Being a “One Bite Rule” State Means - The Green Law FirmTo many people, dogs are much more than pets; they’re family. Dog bite attacks can be challenging because of the love and adoration we have for these four-legged creatures. Yet, unfortunately, dog bites happen regularly here in Texas and throughout the United States. We need to remember that dogs are still animals and have internal instincts that may cause them to act out. Even people who are very attentive dog owners may find themselves in the middle of an unfortunate incident involving their beloved pet. According to the Center for Disease Control, there are nearly 90 million dogs and 4.5 million dog bites in the United States every year. Sadly, Texas leads the country in dog bite-related deaths.

One study that looked at dog bite cases from 2005 to 2017 uncovered dog attacks led to 52 fatalities. While all age groups are at risk of dog bite injuries, the majority of victims are children and the elderly. Although Texas has the most dog attacks and dog bite fatalities, the state does not have a statute that protects people. Instead, Texas is considered a “one bite rule” state.

The purpose of today’s article is to take a closer look at what this “one bite rule” means and how it affects victims of dog attacks. Texas is one of the harshest states when it comes to penalizing owners of dogs that have attacked or bitten another person. However, numerous factors contribute to filing a dog bite lawsuit. Given the complicated nature of these cases, you must have a Brownsville dog bite injury lawyer on your side. To win a case of this nature, several different circumstances must be met. As a dog bite victim, you have several options for taking action and pursuing damages for your injuries. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your case with an experienced bilingual attorney, contact The Green Law Firm today.

Explaining the One Bite Rule

Under Texas’ one bite rule, a dog owner can be held liable for any harm that was inflicted on another person by a dog or other domestic animal. Furthermore, this rule states that the person or persons attacked have the right to recover compensation if the dog has displayed aggressive behavior in the past or bitten another person. For a dog bite victim to receive payment, both of these circumstances must be met, as well as the following:

  • You must be able to prove the dog’s owner was aware the dog had bitten someone in the past
  • You must be able to prove the dog’s owner knew the dog had acted aggressively towards another person (not animal) in the past
  • You must be able to prove the dog’s owner was negligent in preventing the bite and controlling the dog
  • You must be able to prove this negligence directly caused the victim’s injuries

If your case meets the above criteria, you may have the right to file a lawsuit to recover damages for your injuries in Texas. It is important to note that if the dog has never displayed any dangerous habits or acted viciously in the past, you will make a much more difficult time proving your case.

The law in Texas defines a vicious dog as:

  • A dog that has scratched, lunged at, or bitten a person on three different occasions
  • A dog that has bitten or scratched an attending vet
  • A dog that has killed another dog, cat, domestic pet, or livestock on at least one occasion

Deadlines for Filing a Lawsuit in Texas

In Texas, plaintiffs have two years from the time of the dog attack to begin filing a lawsuit. If the initial paperwork isn’t initiated within these two years, the victim will forever lose the right to seek compensation for their injuries.

Proving Liability and Establishing Negligence in Dog Bite Cases

To recover damages following a dog bite, you must be able to prove the owner was liable and negligent. Based on the information above, plaintiffs need to show the owner not only knew the dog was aggressive but failed to use reasonable care to prevent the attack. For example, if the dog had a history of biting people, yet the owner allowed the dog to roam freely around the neighborhood without being on a leash, there’s a good chance the court will find the owner negligent. It should also be noted that this negligence rule also pertains to other common dog-related accidents.

Dog Bite Injuries

Depending on the type of dog and circumstances surrounding the case, the following are common injuries from dog bites:

  • Puncture wounds
  • Lacerations
  • Deep scratches
  • Bruising
  • Broken bones
  • Eye injuries
  • Face injuries
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Scars
  • Deep penetrating wounds

What are common complications from dog bite injuries?

  • Rabies
  • Capnocytophaga (a bacteria found in dog’s mouths that can spread through saliva)
  • Tetanus
  • Pasteurella (a common bacteria found in dog’s mouths that can cause pain, redness, and swelling)
  • MRSA

Do I Need a Dog Bite Lawyer?

If you were bitten by a dog and the owner was to blame, please contact The Green Law Firm. We will help you understand Texas’ one bite rule and what your options are. We know how stressful and overwhelming these cases can be, as we are dog lovers ourselves. However, if a dog has acted viciously in the past, yet the owner has failed to take action to protect both the dog and people it comes in contact with, you may have the right to file a lawsuit. To learn more about dog bite injury cases and what you can expect, should you decide to pursue damages, please contact The Green Law Firm today.


  1. I feel it’s time to revamp Texas law , I believe no matter where you live city or county there should be leash laws that state if your animal is not fenced then it must be on a leash to prevent animal attacks and or bites and also to protect your animal from being hit by a car. To me this is common sense and Mr Abbot. Should sign a bill to that affect. Thanks for reading my rant.

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