As a pet owner, a person may be held responsible for any defensive action the animal takes. In the United States, dogs are ranked highest for pet ownership. In the state of Texas, several laws and regulations can be used to hold the owner of a dog responsible for an animal’s actions that harm another person. This form of negligence is one of the most common filed in civil courts across the nation. Should a person find him/herself to be the victim of a dog attack/mauling, which legal steps should he/she take?
Negligent Animal Care
Negligence is the basis of personal injury. The same applies if a person suffers injury from a dog attack. If this occurs, four factors will have to be proven in order to claim negligence:
- The animal responsible for the attack was owned by the defendant.
- The defendant owed a duty of care in order to prevent any injuries committed by the animal. For example, if the owner knew the animal posed danger, strict precautions should have been made to prevent the animal from coming into contact with pedestrians.
- The defendant breached that duty by failing to properly care for the animal.
- The breach of duty led to the animal injuring the plaintiff.
Determining Animal Ownership
Proving that the animal responsible for the attack was owned by the defendant is not difficult. Records such as veterinary visits and/or eyewitness accounts can prove to be invaluable for the plaintiff when attempting to name negligence.
Was a Duty of Care Owed?
This element may be more difficult to prove. The facts of the case will determine if care was owed, which include but are not limited to:
- Was the animal notoriously protective/dangerous? If so, extra care should have been enforced.
- If the attack occurred in a public location such as a park or beach, the duty of care applies no matter how docile the animal is.
Breach of Duty and Determination of Injuries
Breaching a duty of care can be relatively easy to prove. If the animal had overprotective or dangerous tendencies and attacked, that alone can place blame on the animal’s owner. Another example may include having the animal at a public park without a leash. In other words, if the owner fails to properly ensure that the animal is secured, negligence can be placed. Determining if the animal was responsible is also relatively easy. A medical team or physician can account for the injuries caused by the dog along with the use of medical records from hospitals, rehabilitation centers or police reports.
Know that a highly-skilled legal team in the area of personal injury is available if you require assistance with your case. The J. Gonzalez Law Firm of McAllen can be reached at 956.630.6700.