Texas One-bite rule

Texas has no statewide leash law; however, each county and city across Texas may adopt a leash law that imposes a duty on dog owners. These laws are designated to protect the public from dog attacks and to prevent the spread of rabies and other diseases. Houston and several other counties have adopted local laws that require dog owners to leash or otherwise restrain their dogs while in public areas and are prohibited from allowing their dogs to “run at large.”

Harris County Animal Regulations clearly state that “all dogs must be kept under restraint while in the unincorporated areas of Harris County, Texas.” In other words, the owner must take reasonable steps to ensure the dog remains on the owner’s property when not under the owner’s direct physical control.

Texas follows the principle of the “one-bite rule” based on the idea that a dog’s first bite is “free” when it comes to the owner’s liability to the victim. After the first bite, the dog owner is said to be on notice of the dog’s tendency to bite. Under this rule, a dog bite victim must show that the dog owner knew the dog had previously attacked someone or has shown to have violent tendencies.

A dog leash ordinance in your jurisdiction can become an extremely important element in a claim under “negligence per se” regardless of whether a dog was deemed dangerous or to possess violent tendencies. Under the negligence theory, the victim must show a dog owner or handler violated a local leash law; and the violation caused the victim to suffer injuries.

If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of a dog attack, contact an experienced attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling (713) 244-5470 or 1-888-261-9018 for your free consultation. The law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner is the longest standing personal injury firm in Texas, and our attorneys are standing by to assist with your claim.