What Constitutes an Animal Attack?

January 14, 2021


Dog Bite Cases Can Get Complicated

In the United States alone, nearly 50 million households own at least one dog [1], with the average person caring for 1.6 dogs per house. America is a dog-loving nation – with 90 million dogs as pets in the country (that equates to one dog for every 3.5 humans). However, not all dog stories are positive.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 4.5 million dog bites [2] or animal attacks occur every year in the U.S., 800,000 of which require medical assistance. With a nationwide population of 328.2 million people in 2019, this means one out of every 73 people experiences a dog bite injury.

Whether you own a chihuahua, lab, or Great Dane, caring for a dog requires a great deal of responsibility. Unfortunately, dog bites and other animal attacks are often preventable and can be directly traced to a failure on the owner’s part. When a dog or animal owner does not take steps to train and socialize their pet appropriately, the repercussions can be devastating.

The Texas animal attack lawyers at Shamieh Law understand how sensitive these cases are and will do everything we can to assist you. Whether an animal you knew or were unfamiliar with attacked you and caused injuries, you may have the right to take legal action. Filing a dog bite lawsuit in Texas can be complicated, especially given the state’s “one-bite” rule.

Facts and Statistics About Animal Attacks 

Both children and adults must learn how to interact with dogs and other animals safely. Often, dog attacks occur because of errors made by humans. Although this is the case, people still blame the pet for these injuries. Before we take a closer look at liability and common damages following an animal attack in Texas, let’s go over some telling statistics about dog bites and animal attacks:

  • Nearly one in five dog bite injuries becomes infected.
  • In 2018, an estimated 27,000 people [3] had to undergo reconstructive surgery following a dog bite injury.
  • Between 1993 and 2008, the U.S. witnessed an 86% increase in hospitalizations relating to dog bites.
  • The average cost of a hospital stay caused by a dog bite is nearly $20,000.
  • Households with two or more dogs are five times more likely to experience a dog bite injury.
  • Every day, 1,000 people are treated for dog bite-related injuries in emergency rooms across the U.S.
    • The majority of individuals treated for dog bites in ERs are between the ages of five and nine.
  • Each year, 885,000 dog bite victims require medical attention.
  • 26% of fatal dog bites were children under the age of two.
  • In 2019, there were 48 fatal dog bite injuries.
  • 70% of dog bite fatalities were not family pets.
  • S. Postal Service workers were the victims of nearly 6,000 dog bites.
  • Dog bites are responsible for 26% of animal-related injuries.
  • Homeowners paid out $797 million in dog bite injury claims in 2019.
  • The average cost of a dog bite injury claim is $44,760.

What Factors Contribute to Animal Attacks? 

The National Canine Research Council states seven ‘controllable factors’ associated with animal attacks, specifically dog bite fatalities [4]. Statistics show that from 2000-2015, dog bite fatalities met at least four of the following criteria:

  • There was no additional person in the vicinity to intervene or help the dog bite victim (86.9%).
  • The victim did not know the dog in any capacity (83.7%).
  • The dog was not spayed or neutered.
  • The victim had a physical disability of some sort.
  • The dog was not a family pet but rather a “resident” dog.
  • The owner did not properly train the dog or otherwise mismanaged their upbringing.
  • The owner abused or neglected the animal.

Understanding Texas’ One-Bite Rule

As mentioned, Texas follows the “one-bite” rule. Unlike other states in the country, Texas does not have a civil statute in place that outlines the owner’s liability for damages, which is another reason why these cases are so complex and require a knowledgeable dog bite injury lawyer’s expertise. Texas’ one-bite rule was put into action in 1974 by the Supreme Court in a case called Marshall v. Range. Under this piece of legislation, the person injured by a dog must prove the following:

  • The dog owner was aware the dog had acted aggressively in the past or had bitten another person.
  • The dog owner did not meet the standard duty of care required to control the dog and, in turn, prevent the attack from taking place.

Who is Liable for a Dog Bite Injury? 

Even if the owner didn’t know the dog was dangerous, they could be held liable for some percentage of the fault. In Texas, if the animal attack victim is found to be more than 50% at fault, the owner is not held liable. In some cases, the dog’s owner may face criminal charges in addition to civil liability:

  • The owner failed to secure the dog, and it then attacked another person, completely unprovoked.
  • The owner is aware the animal is considered dangerous according to Texas law, and the dog attacks someone unprovoked, not at its home.

How to File a Lawsuit Following an Animal Attack

Filing a dog bite injury lawsuit in Texas starts with proving negligence under the one-bite rule. This step can be tricky, which is why we encourage you to contact an animal attack lawyer at Shamieh Law. Our team of experienced dog bite injury lawyers can help you file the correct paperwork and take legal action. If you suffered a dog bite injury or sustained injuries by another animal in Texas, please contact Shamieh Law today and let us get started on your case.