There is no Texas “leash law” that applies statewide. However, Houston and other cities have local laws that require a leash, muzzle, or other restraint in public areas or prohibit owners from allowing dogs to “run at large.”
When a dog owner violates these laws, it can result in someone suffering harm. If you or a loved one is the victim of a dog attack due to such negligence, you may be eligible to file a dog bit injury lawsuit. Dog attack claims can be complicated, though, even when based on a leash law violation.
Insurance companies often deny compensation to victims for the harm they suffer, including physical, emotional, and financial damage. That’s why it’s important to work with an experienced attorney.
As a personal injury law firm, we challenge the insurance companies when they try to deny a claim. We believe it is crucial to protect the rights of dog bite victims in Houston, Texas.
What Is a Leash Law?
Despite the lack of a Texas leash law, dog owners have an obligation. Whether at the state, county, or city level, leash laws impose a duty of care on dog owners. Leash laws protect people from dog attacks and stop diseases like rabies from spreading in public.
Typically, the laws require a dog owner to keep their pet on a leash, or some other physical restraint, whenever the dog is off the owner’s property. In some cases, they also prohibit owners from bringing dogs to playgrounds, parks, or other public areas. Some laws also establish a minimum length for the leash while others are more flexible. Laws can be unclear, only needing owners to keep their dog “under control,” which could include using a verbal command.
When a law prohibits owners from “permitting” or “allowing” a dog to run “at large,” it means that they must ensure the dog is on their property when it’s not under their direct, physical control. This is also vague, leaving room for an owner to claim the dog jumped over the fence and that they didn’t “allow” the dog to leave the property.
However, all of this makes liability in a dog bite claim more complex. In order to establish liability, a lawyer carefully examines the applicable law to identify potential loopholes.
Houston Leash Law
According to the Municipal Code of Ordinances of the City of Houston, a dog owner “or any other person with the right of possession” of a dog has to ensure it does not “run at large.” Under this Houston, Texas leash law code, “running at large” means allowing the animal to roam public or private property without the handler having direct physical control of the dog.
The Houston leash ordinance is a strict liability law, which means a person can be guilty of a violation “without regard to whether the person was acting with a culpable mental state.”
Houston’s Code allows dogs to roam only in designated off-leash areas, such as a dog park. However, the owner has to supervise the dog at all times.
How Does a Leash Law Violation Impact a Dog Bite Claim?
While there’s no Texas leash law, Texas follows the “one bite” rule. In order to hold an owner liable under this rule, the victim of a dog bite has to prove that the owner knew the dog had violent tendencies or a history of biting. So, many victims rely on local leash law violations to establish liability.
Additionally, your attorney can use the violation to establish “negligence per se,” meaning the victim is entitled to damages if they can prove the following.
- The dog owner or handler violated local leash laws.
- This violation resulted in the victim’s injuries.
Let’s break it down a little further to show the chain of liability.
- The dog owner failed to keep their dog under direct physical control.
- You have proof that shows this failure in some way.
- As a result of that failure, the dog attacked you.
- The attack resulted in injuries, such as scars, nerve damage, soft tissue injuries, or disfigurement.
Once your attorney establishes this chain, you are more likely to recover relevant damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other costs incurred.
Working With an Experienced Attorney After a Dog Bite or Attack
If a dog attacks you and causes you harm, our legal team is ready to conduct a thorough investigation to establish liability under a local Texas leash law. Additionally, we can review your expenses to accurately calculate your damages.
As personal injury lawyers, we always fight for the best interests of our clients. If the insurance company refuses to negotiate or outright denies your claim, we are ready to take them to trial, and we are Ready to Win. To learn more about your options, schedule a free consultation with our team today.