To win a dog attack lawsuit, you must show the owner knew or should have known their dog was dangerous. What facts can show that?
One of the top legal standards for proving liability for a dog bite in Texas includes showing the owner knew, or should have known, they own a vicious dog, but failed to take ordinary care to protect others.
Read another way, a dog can attack and maul you, but if the owner had no reason to expect that, they may not be legally liable for your injuries.
How do you show an owner should have known they have a vicious dog?
Here’s a list of things which may show just that:
The Owner Frequently Confines or Restrains Their Dog
Any type of frequent confinement may show the dog is known to be dangerous. This can include keeping the dog outside, on a chain, or in a kennel.
It can also include simply posting signs to beware of the dog.
The Dog Breed
Certain breeds, as you’ve likely heard, are much more likely to bite and attack because that’s the nature of their breed.
Such breeds can include:
- Pit bulls
- German Shepherds
- Doberman Pinschers
Any Obvious Signs of Aggressive Behavior
Formal complaints about a dog to the police, the owner warning people about the dog, and the dog acting aggressively towards other dogs can be enough to prove liability.
Note that the dog doesn’t necessarily need to have a formal complaint against it. This can simply be observed aggressive behavior by neighbors.
The Dog’s Size
Some dogs are large enough to cause injury simply based on their size. They don’t necessarily have to be aggressive.
Great Danes, for example, average around 150 – 170 pounds. While they have friendly personalities, their sheer size means they can knock you flat on your back if they get silly and a little out-of-control.
But None of These Prove Liability By Themselves
Understand that any of these facts by themselves act only as evidence. They don’t necessarily prove liability.
For example, a “Beware of Dog” sign could also simply be used to scare away burglars. So just having that sign doesn’t necessarily indicate the dog’s owner knows the dog is dangerous.
To prove liability, you’ll likely need to show the dog had a clear pattern of aggressive behavior, and that any reasonable person should have known they needed to take action to protect others from their dog.
Otherwise, the owner can still say they weren’t aware they had a vicious dog. And then you can’t hold them liable for injuries their dog causes.
For now, you understand what it means a dog’s owner “knew or should have known” their dog to be dangerous.
And you can take the proper action to protect yourself and others.