Sugar Land Dog Bite Lawyer | Sugar Land Dog Mauling Lawsuit | Sugar Land Dog Attack Attorney
Fort Bend County Dog Bite Accident Attorney
Dangerous Dog Facts:
- An estimated 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year;
- Approximately 334,000 people are admitted to US emergency rooms annually with dog bite-associated injuries, and another 466,000 are seen in other medical settings;
- An unknown number of other people who have been bitten do not sustain injuries deemed serious enough to require medical attention;
- Almost half of all persons bitten are children younger than 12 years old; and
- People more than 70 years old comprise 10% of those bitten and 20% of those killed.
According to Zoonosis Control Division of the Texas Department of Health, domesticated dogs comprise most the dog bites in any given year. Even more shocking, Texas was the leader in dog bite fatalities in 2007, with seven fatalities stemming from dog bites that year alone. There is a regional Zoonosis office in Houston located at Texas Department of State Health Services, Zoonosis Control, 5425 Polk, Suite J, Houston, Texas 77023, (713) 767-3000 for all of your needs and questions.
Responsible Dog Ownership in Sugar Land Definitely Can Reduce Sugar Land Dog Bites
As so many things in life, dog bites can be reduced by what happens in the home. A dog is not always the one to blame in the instance of a dog attack or dog bite injury. Many owners use their dogs for illegal dog fights and these dogs are victimized every bit as much as the victims of their attacks, and they too are often severely injured or even killed in dog fighting rings as they fight for their lives. Negligent and abusive dog owners should be held liable for their actions. A decision to be a responsible dog is a personal decision and one that requires responsibility. There are many places in and around Sugar Land, Texas to have your dog trained for obedience. Dog owners are also able to take their dog to an area designated for dogs to play. Dog parks are there so that the owner can take their dog to an area where they can run around and play in an fenced-in and safe place. Dog parks are a responsible place to take your pet to ensure that when they are running off their leash that they will not run away from you and/or cause harm to a person or another animal. Some Dog Training Facilities and Dog Park locations in the General Sugar Land Area include:
DogS Gone Good
Bark Busters Home Dog Training
Boneyard Dog Park & Drinkery
Bill Archer Dog Park
Dogs should be trained and any sense of aggressive behavior exhibited by a dog should be immediately attended to by the pet owner in order to avoid a future incident. What it boils down to is that if you or a loved one have been bitten, attacked, maimed, or killed by a dog or other animal, you should be entitled to some degree of compensation from the animal’s owner or handler. Contact one of the experienced Sugar Land dog bite lawyers above for a consultation regarding your claim.
Texas’s “One Bite” Rule & Dog Bite Claims Based on Negligence
Texas follows the arcane “one bite rule.” This means that a pet owner is liable when:
- the owner knew that the dog had bitten someone before or had a “dangerous propensity” for biting;
- the bite was caused by the negligence of the person handling the dog;
- the bite was caused by a violation of a leash law, prohibition against dogs trespassing or running at large, or a similar animal control law; or,
- the bite injury was caused intentionally by the owner or person handling the dog.
When it cannot be proved that the dog’s owner or handler knew of the dog’s propensity to bite, negligence can form the basis of a claim. An example of a negligence-based claim could occur when the owner of a dog whose breed is notorious for its violent propensities — such as a pit bull, Rottweiler, or German Shepherd — allows their dog to run loose in a children’s park or other public area without supervision. The dog’s owner will be held liable based on negligence if the dog bites a child in the park.
However, a person does not have to be the dog’s owner to be held liable for a bite victim’s injuries. A child bitten at a day care facility for dogs could, through the child’s parents, make a claim against the pet care center, even though the dog was owned by a third party who was absent at the time of the bite. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite, you should contact a Sugar Land dog bite attorney to pursue your personal injury claims. Even if the dog has no prior history of aggression and has never bitten anyone before, Texas’s “one bite rule” may allow a Sugar Land dog bite injury lawyer to fight your claim successfully, and you deserve compensation for your injuries.
Sugar Land Negligence Per Se Dog Bite Lawyer
When a statute or ordinance is violated and the violation leads to an injury, this is called negligence per se.
Negligence per se is frequently found in cases of dog bites, dog maulings, and dog attacks, often resulting from a violation of:
- leash laws;
- dog trespass laws; or,
- no “free-run” laws.
Usually, these types of dog control laws and ordinances are only found in large Texas cities; however, Sugar Land has an ordinance requiring that dogs be "restrained" at all times. Furthermore, Sugar Land requires that all dogs over four months of age be licensed with the city officials. If you or a loved one has been bitten or mauled by a dog running loose in violation of the law of Sugar Land or Fort Bend County, you should contact a local Sugar Land dog bite attorney immediately.
Lillian’s Law (H.B. 1355)
The so-called “Lillian Stiles Law,” sponsored by Senator Eliot Shapleigh and passed in 2007, increases the jail time for owners who fail to secure their dogs in a reasonable manner, resulting in serious bodily injury or death to another. Under the law, a dog owner will be charged with a third-degree felony if their dog causes serious bodily injury to a victim during an unprovoked attack. A third-degree felony is punishable by 2-10 years of prison time as well as a potential fine of up to $10,000. If the victim dies from an unprovoked dog attack, H.B. 1355 would impose a charge of second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Click here for more information on the passage of Lillian’s Law,
Texas still allows a dog to be chained up, which is not only bad policy, but also dangerous to children and others who are routinely attacked by dogs that have been chained. Lillian’s law helps protect Sugar Land residents from dogs that attack when not reasonably secured and allows Sugar Land dog bite lawyers to sue the dog owners despite lack of previous history of aggression or any provocation from the injury victim. Call a Sugar Land dog bite lawyer today.
Some of Texas' Laws on Dog Bites
Some of the laws are found in the Texas Health & Safety Code, Title 10, Chapter 822 Regulation of Animals:
- Subchapter A General Provisions; Dogs That Attack Persons or Are a Danger to Persons;
Subchapter D Dangerous Dogs;
- 822.041. Definitions;
- 822.042. Requirements for Owner of Dangerous Dog;
- 822.0421. Determination That Dog is Dangerous;
- 822.0422. Reporting of Incident in Certain Counties and Municipalities;
- 822.0423. Hearing;
- 822.043. Registration;
- 822.044. Attack by Dangerous Dog;
- 822.045. Violations;
- 822.046. Defense; and
- 822.047. Local Regulation of Dangerous Dogs
Fort Bend County Dangerous Dog Laws
Health & Safety Code § 822.047 LOCAL REGULATION OF DANGEROUS DOGS.
A county or municipality may place additional requirements or restrictions on dangerous dogs if the requirements or restrictions:
- Not specific to one breed or several breeds of dogs; and
- More stringent than restrictions provided by this subchapter.
Legal Procedures for Dangerous Dogs
- Fort Bend County has adopted regulations regarding animal control based on what is allowed by the Health and Safety Code.
- Applies only to unincorporated portions of FBC. Cities have their own regulations/ordinances.
- There is a dog loose in my neighborhood
- There is a dog that just bit someone and it caused a serious bodily injury
- There is a dog that looks like it will bite someone because it is acting aggressively
Each scenario has a specified remedy
SCENARIO 1 - There is a dog loose in my neighborhood.
- Fort Bend County requires all dogs and cats to be kept under restraint
- The owner of any dog or cat will be held responsible for the action of the pet
- Animal control is authorized to seize and impound an animal that is “at large”
- Any person may take up and deliver an animal to Animal Control for impounding
- If ownership is known, Animal Control may issue a citation to the owner of the straying pet instead of impounding
- If impounded, an owner may retrieve the pet upon payment of appropriate charges
- End result- dog may be coming home
SCENARIO 2 - Dog bit someone; caused a serious bodily injury
- Bite is defined as “any abrasion, scratch, puncture, tear or piercing of the skin actually or suspected of being caused by the animal.”
- Causes severe bodily injury defined as an injury characterized by severe bite wounds or severe ripping and tearing of muscle that would cause a reasonably prudent person to seek treatment from a medical professional AND would require hospitalization without regard to whether the person actually sought medical treatment.
- Sworn report is made to JP or County Court by any person, including a peace officer
- Judge issues a warrant based on probable cause to seize dog
- Animal control seizes dog and impounds
- Same procedure for a city, unless the city has adopted more restrictive rules.
- Court sets hearing within 10 days of warrant
- If Court rules “serious bodily injury,” dog is euthanized
- End result- dog is NOT coming home
SCENARIO 3 - Dog that looks like it will bite someone because it is acting aggressively
- I think that dog is going to bite me Or the dog did bite me causing less than a “serious bodily injury”
- Legal wording to describe this scenario is, “Dog bites or commits unprovoked attacks that lead reasonable person to believe that the dog would attack and cause bodily injury to the person.”
- Report made to animal control about incident- specificity is key.
- Determinations are made on fact specific information. More on this later.
- Animal control investigates utilizing sworn statements of witnesses and makes determination that dog is or is not dangerous
- If animal is declared dangerous, owner is notified and has 15 days to appeal determination
- If there is no appeal, the dangerous dog determination stands and the owner is required to comply with the regulations for having a “dangerous dog”
Requirements for dangerous dog:
- Register the dangerous dog with the animal control authority for the area in which the dog is kept
- Restrain the dangerous dog at all times on a leash in the immediate control of a person or in a secure enclosure;
- Obtain liability insurance coverage or show financial responsibility in an amount of at least $100,000 to cover damages resulting from an attack by the dangerous dog causing bodily injury to a person and provide proof of the required liability insurance coverage or financial responsibility to the animal control authority for the area in which the dog is kept
- Comply with an applicable municipal or county regulation, requirement, or restriction on dangerous dogs
- If in compliance, the dog stays at home
- If not in compliance, dog will be seized and owner has additional 10 days
- Failure to comply results in dog being euthanized, but compliance means the dog comes home
- The determination of whether the dog is dangerous can be appealed
- If there is an appeal by the owner, the court will hold a ruling to determine if this is a dangerous dog
- Appeal decided by judge
- If not determined to be dangerous, then the dog goes home
- If dog is dangerous, the owner will have to demonstrate compliance as stated before
Facts of Case
- Dog bite victim’s parents brought action against United States to recover for injuries caused by bite on military base.
- Dog involved was a pit bull breed.
- All parties lived on the army base, including the dog. This is where the bite occurred.
The Evidence Presented
Army officials had testified that they knew the pit bull breed had potential to be more aggressive or injurious. Actual testimony included:
- That some breeds, including pit bulls, have “tendencies towards aggression”
- That pit bulls were one of the breeds that had physical characteristics or breed characteristics that gave it a “higher incidence of being able to cause harm.”
- Court stated, “generalized assumptions regarding particular breeds are insufficient to establish actual knowledge as to a specific dog’s propensities.”
- Court rejected the lawsuit and the parents could not go further.
- Therefore, must be very specific in reports made on this subject
- Criminal penalties apply to dangerous dog scenarios.
- Failure to comply with dangerous dog requirements and an attack by a dangerous dog are both Class C misdemeanors which may be upgraded for repeat offenses.
- An attack resulting in serious bodily injury is a Class A misdemeanor.
Penal Code § 37.08
- False report to peace officer or law enforcement employee
- A person commits an offense if, with intent to deceive, s/he knowingly makes a false statement that is material to a criminal investigation and makes the statement to:
Penal Code § 37.08
- A peace officer conducting the investigation; or
- Any employee of a law enforcement agency that is authorized by the agency to conduct the investigation and that the actor knows is conducting the investigation.
Penal Code § 37.08
- An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.
DIVISION 3. - DANGEROUS AND VICIOUS ANIMALS
Sec. 3-36. - Dangerous dogs.
(a) This section applies to the extent it is more stringent than Chapter 822 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.
(b) The owner of a dangerous dog must annually register the dangerous dog with animal services and pay an annual registration fee.
(c) A dangerous dog must wear at all times an orange and yellow collar provided by animal services.
(d) The owner of a dangerous dog must keep the dog restrained at all times by:
(1) Keeping the dog enclosed within fences or walls that are at least six feet high and approved by animal services;
(2) Keeping the dog within a fully enclosed cage or pen, or within a building from which the general public is excluded, which is designed and maintained to keep the dog from escaping by leaping, digging or other means; or
(3) Transporting the dog within a fully enclosed vehicle.
(e) A dangerous dog not restrained as required by this section is considered to be running at large.
(f) A sign that states "Dangerous Dog" must be posted in a window on each side of a vehicle transporting a dangerous dog under subsection (d), and the dog must be:
(1) Controlled by a line or leash not more than six feet in length and which is held by a person capable of controlling the dog; and
(2) Humanely muzzled.
(g) Owners of a dangerous dog must post on the premises where the dog is kept for more the 12 consecutive hours a sign provided by animal services informing that a dangerous dog is on the premises. The sign must be plainly visible from each street area adjacent to the premises.
(Ord. No. 1722, § 1, 12-16-2008)
Sec. 3-37. - Ownership or custodianship changes of dangerous dogs.
(a) If the ownership or custodianship of a dangerous dog changes, the name and address of the new owner or custodian must be provided to animal services by the previous owner or custodian of the dog.
(b) If the new owner or custodian of a dangerous dog resides in the city, animal services must notify the new owner or custodian that:
(1) The dog is a dangerous dog;
(2) Registration of the dog is not transferable; and
(3) The new owner or custodian must comply with the requirements of this division.
(c) When a person residing in the city becomes the owner or custodian of a dog that has been determined to be a dangerous dog under Section 822.0421 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, the new owner or custodian must register the dog on or before the 14th day after the date of receipt of the dog or the 14th day after the date of receipt of notice from the city that the dog has been previously determined to be a dangerous dog, whichever occurs first.
(d) If the new owner or custodian of a dangerous dog does not reside in the city, animal services must notify the new owner and the appropriate animal control authority in the area where the dog has been transferred that the dog has been previously determined to be a dangerous dog.
(Ord. No. 1722, § 1, 12-16-2008)
Sec. 3-38. - Vicious animals.
(a) A peace officer or animal services officer may, in the interest of public safety, destroy a vicious animal found running at large.
(b) The animal services manager may order an owner of a vicious animal to remove the animal permanently from the city. An order may be appealed to the municipal court in writing within ten days of the issuance of the order. Pending appeal, the animal must be removed from the city or restrained in a manner acceptable to the animal services manager. The court hearing the appeal may uphold, reverse, or modify the order and may stipulate restrictions on the animal as a condition to allowing the animal to remain in the city. If the court upholds the order as given by the animal services manager, the owner may not bring the animal back inside the city limits.
(c) If the owner of a vicious animal fails to remove the animal, as provided for under this section, the animal may be impounded or humanely euthanized.
(d) The owner of a vicious animal must report the disposition and relocation of the animal to the animal services manager in writing not later than the tenth day after the expiration date for removal of the animal from the city. Each day the letter is not provided after it is due constitutes a violation and a separate offense.
(e) The animal services manager is authorized to obtain a search and seizure warrant if:
(1) A vicious animal ordered to be removed from the city has not been removed; or
(2) The owner of a vicious animal that has been involved in a bite incident or is suspected of having rabies or any other zoonotic disease fails to surrender the animal for quarantine purposes or for humane euthanasia.
(Ord. No. 1722, § 1, 12-16-2008)
Sec. 3-39. - Investigation of bite or scratch incidents.
(a) All animal bite or scratch incidents that break the skin must be investigated by animal services. It is unlawful for any person to, without the permission of the animal services manager, kill or remove from the city limits any animal that has bitten any person or other animal or that has been placed under quarantine, except when it is necessary to protect the life of any person or other animal.
(b) Every animal that bites or scratches a human or attacks another animal in an unnatural manner, or has rabies or any other zoonotic disease, or is under suspicion of having rabies or any other zoonotic disease, must be immediately confined by the owner and promptly notify animal services or an animal services officer of the place where the animal is confined and the reason for the confinement. The owner may not permit the animal to come in contact with any other person or animal.
(Ord. No. 1722, § 1, 12-16-2008)
Sec. 3-40. - Reserved.
Family Bystander Mental Anguish Claims
Texas recognizes the right of bystanders to recover damages for mental anguish caused by witnessing an accident, with the following limitations: the bystander must be a parent or child of the victim and the victim must have been killed or severely injured in the animal attack or mauling. Therefore, if you have witnessed a close family member mauled or bitten by a dog, you may want to pursue legal action on behalf of the injury victim as well as your own claims for witnessing such a horrific event. Contact a Sugar Land dog bite lawyer today to discuss bystander and mental anguish claims.
Negligence Based on Failure to Stop an Attack
A Texas dog owner owes a duty to attempt to stop his dog from attacking a person after the attack has begun. This is a civil duty, meaning that the Sugar Land dog bite victim can sue for monetary damages if the dog owner does not attempt to stop the attack.
If you or a loved one have been bitten or mauled by a dangerous dog in Sugar Land or Fort Bend County, TX, please contact one of the experienced Sugar Land dog bite injury lawyers listed on this page.
What Should You Do if You Have Been Bitten by a Dog?
- Make every attempt to keep the animal in sight, find its owner, and obtain the owner’s contact information, preferably verified by their photo ID.
- Immediately wash the wound out with soap and warm water.
- Make sure that you are up to date on your tetanus shots.
- Seek the help of a physician or visit a local hospital.
- Report the bite to the Sugar Land Planning and Development Services Department (contact information below).
- Seek the help of a Sugar Land dog bite attorney, if necessary, and maintain copies of all medical records and other relevant evidence.
For more information on dog bites and their victims, visit DogsBite.org
Dog Bite Reporting:
If you would like to report a Sugar Land area or Fort Bend County dog bite or ask other questions pertaining to veterinary public health, do not hesitate to contact the Sugar Land Planning and Development Services Department office at:
A variety of animal training classes and services are offered by the Fort Bend County Animal Services. The Fort Bend County Animal Services may be reached at:
Contact one of the experienced Sugar Land dog bite lawyers above for a consultation regarding your claim.
Personal Injury Attorneys Serve Sugar Land and Surrounding Cities
Serving clients throughout Southeastern Texas, including Arcola, Beasley, DeWalt, Fairchilds, Fifth Street, Four Corners, Fulshear, Greatwood, Kendleton, Meadows Place, Mission Bend, Missouri City, Needville, New Territory, Orchard, Pecan Grove, Pleak, Richmond, Rosenberg, Simonton, Stafford, Thompsons, Weston Lakes and other communities in Fort Bend County.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury, please contact one of the experienced Fort Bend County dog bite lawyers listed on this page.