My firm recently concluded the jury trial of a case in which a 4-year-old boy was mauled in Tyler by a dog that was restrained on a chain. There was no evidence that the dog had ever bitten anyone in the past. The jury awarded actual damages, primarily for disfigurement, and punitive damages.
Conventional wisdom is that there is no liability in a dog bite case without evidence that the dog has bitten in the past. The saying is that “the first bite is free.” As a Tyler injury attorney I’ve never agreed with this theory.
During the voir dire the jury was carefully questioned whether any of the jurors held the belief that because there was no evidence of a past bite that there could be no liability. No prospective jurors were disqualified on that basis. During the trial one of the Defendants testified that it was not the breed but rather the way a particular dog was raised and conditioned that made it aggressive. The jury also received evidence regarding the training, nature, and disposition of the dog that suggested that the dog would bite. Based upon this evidence the jury found the defendants liability for not only actual damages but also punitive damages. So much for the old wives’ tale that the first bite is free.
For more information contact a Tyler Dog Bite Lawyer today.