Car Accidents Caused By Texas Livestock: Who Is Liable?

Texas drivers can do everything right and still get into a car accident. If another driver is at-fault for the accident, victims can seek compensation.

But what if an animal causes a car accident? You can’t exactly sue an animal. What does Texas law say about who is liable?

Understanding Texas Livestock Laws

Texas Range Laws vs Counties

If Texas livestock or a farm animal causes your car accident, it can be challenging to understand whether the livestock owners are held liable. That’s because the regulations for keeping livestock confined in Texas can be complex.

According to Texas Agriculture Code Section 143.021 – 143.082, Texas is an “open-range” state. This means livestock owners don’t have to keep their animals fenced in and can allow animals to roam freely. However, there are exceptions to this law.

Counties are allowed to have their own rules about containing livestock. If they have closed-range regulations, livestock owners are required to keep animals contained in specific areas. If their animals escape and cause an accident, the owners or a third party are liable for the consequences. A third party could be their insurance provider.

Closed-range laws can be confusing for drivers because they aren’t necessarily uniform throughout a county. They may only apply to specific communities or areas within a county. Plus, if counties don’t hold an election to vote on that county’s laws, their local laws default to Texas’s statewide open range law.

For travelers passing through a county, it’s not obvious whether a specific area has closed-range laws, as there isn’t a centralized database listing these local stock laws. People must ask their local sheriff for this information, or a country clerk to check the election records.

Texas Range Laws vs Highways

Two more exceptions to the open-range law are state and federal highways, which are considered closed-range. Livestock owners can’t knowingly allow their animals to roam freely in these areas. If their livestock causes an accident, the livestock owner is liable.

But this rule is also confusing, as it doesn’t always apply to certain communities and areas.

According to the Texas Association of Counties, the closed-range law doesn’t apply to farm-to-market roads where closed-range or local stock laws haven’t been locally adopted. This means that an animal owner isn’t legally obligated to prevent an animal from roaming onto the road.

And if their animal causes a car accident, the owner isn’t liable for damage caused to the vehicle.

Find Attorneys Who Understand Texas Car Accident Laws

If you were in a car accident, the Dallas team at Ted B. Lyon & Associates can help. Our experienced car accident lawyers can provide you with personalized legal guidance and help you explore potential legal solutions. Request a free initial consultation today by calling us at 877-Ted-Lyon / 877-833-5966 or sending us a message.