Unlike in most states, Texas has no civil statute that spells out a dog owner’s civil liability for damages when their animal bites or injures someone. But in a 1974 decision called Marshall v. Ranne, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state follows the “one bite rule” regarding personal injury liability arising from dog bites.
The term “one bite rule” is based on the idea that a dog’s first bite is “free” when it comes to the owner’s liability to whoever was bitten; after this first bite, the dog owner is said to be on notice of their dog’s tendency to bite. Put another way, an owner whose dog has bitten someone in the past is more likely to be deemed negligent for failing to prevent a later bite. So, Texas’s rules for a dog owner’s civil liability could also be said to be based on negligence.