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Dog Attack Liability in Texas

In 2005, Lillian Stiles, a 76-year-old woman, was riding a lawnmower in her front yard when a pack of 6 Rottweiler mixed-breed dogs attacked and killed her. Her husband Jack was inside watching a football game and was unaware that anything had occurred until a passerby knocked on the door. Jack ran outside to find his wife already lying dead in the lawn.

Two years later, Jose Hernandez, the owner of the dogs, was found not guilty of negligent homicide.

Lilian's Law: Holding Dog Owners Responsible

In memory of Lillian and other victims of dog attacks, the Texas Legislature passed Lillian's Law in 2007. Under the law, a dog owner is charged with a third degree felony if his or her dog causes serious bodily injury to a victim in an unprovoked attack. The crime would be punishable by two to ten years in prison and potentially a $10,000 fine. If the victim dies as a result of the attack, however, the owner is charged with a second-degree felony and can spend up to 20 years in prison.

Lilian's Law: Fails to Address Major Loop Holes

The law has been criticized, however, for failing to address some glaring dog bite issues. Texas still abides by the" one bite rule," which essentially says that a dog owner is not accountable for an attack unless:

  • The dog was known to be dangerous
  • The accident was caused by negligence
  • The attack occurred while the owner was violating some other law (such as a leash law)

Today, conviction is still not possible if the dog owner had no reason to think the dog was dangerous. Jose Hernandez, for instance, convinced a jury that he had no idea that his 6 Rottweiler mixes posed a threat to human safety.

In addition, Lillian's Law only applies to dogs running loose. So if you were a victim of a dog bite while visiting your neighbor, that neighbor still can't be held accountable.

Contact The Kyle Law Firm Today

If you've been attacked by a dog and seriously injured you need experienced legal counsel. The Kyle Law Firm is here to protect your rights and recover the damages you deserve.


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