We left off in our last post talking about negligent handling and unlawful restraint of dogs. Now let’s dive into a few other ways liability could arise because of dog bites as well as how a court could limit victim damages.
Other Types of Dog-Bite Related Liability
In Texas, a court may hold a person liable for failing to stop a dog attack once it has started, even when the victim can’t meet requirements of the One-Bite Rule and negligence.
Moreover, if a landlord or landowner knows of the presence of a dangerous dog, and doesn’t take adequate precautions to keep common areas safe, a court could find them liable for dog bite injuries. For example, say one tenant in an apartment building has a dog, and the landlord knows the dog is dangerous. If the dog bites another tenant in the shared attached yard, the landlord could be held responsible for damages.
If a dog bite happens in front of an individual closely related to the victim, that person may sue the dog owner for emotional distress. For instance, if a mother witnesses a dog attack and injure her son, the mother may bring a cause of action for emotional distress against the dog’s owner.
Comparative Negligence as Defense
Although a dog’s owner may be found liable for injuries it has caused, Texas does permit a defendant to argue that the comparative negligence—basically, the victim’s negligence—should reduce the amount of damages awarded.
The percentage of the victim’s negligence reduces the amount recovered. For example, if a victim’s negligence is 20 percent, the damages award is reduced by 20 percent.
An important note is that the concept of comparative negligence doesn’t apply if the dog bite victim is 5 years old or younger, absent proof that the child understood the consequences of her actions. A court will consider the child’s conduct not against what an adult would have done, but against how a similar child in similar circumstances would have acted.