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Understanding the one bite rule

| Feb 23, 2019 | Premises Liability |

Several in San Antonio may serve as proof that dogs are man’s best friends. At the same time, they are also man’s responsibility. Just as one would be liable for his or her own actions (as well as those of his or her minor children, in many cases), so too are they responsible for whatever their pets do. It goes without saying that pet owners have a strong affinity for their furry friends, and that affection can often lead them to assume that their pets will act the same way towards others as they do to them. This may be why so many dog owners are shocked when their animals attack and bite others. 

Should such action immediately equate to liability? Victims of dog bites may often claim that the dogs’ owners should have foreseen the animals’ actions (and thus done more to protect people from them). Yet how are dog owners to know (minus an attack having already occurred) that their pets might bite? Because such unpredictability exists, many states have adopted the common law principle of the “one bite rule”. Per the Cornell Law School, the one bite rule states that dog owners are only to held liable in bite cases if their pets vicious tendencies have manifested themselves in the past. 

The Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America corporation reports that Texas is indeed among the handful of states that legally recognizes the one bite rule. Thus, a victim in a dog bite case must prove that evidence exists that should have indicated to a dog owner that their animal was predisposed to acct aggressively towards others.