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Dog Bite Claim: What do I need to know?

Dog bites are traumatizing, leaving the victim injured physically, emotionally and psychologically. It’s unfortunate to see others’ pets act violently. Regardless of new rules and regulations states, counties and cities put in place to avoid animal-related injuries, these attacks continue to happen.

If you have a dog bite claim, keep reading to learn more about Missouri’s dog-bite laws and what you can do to receive compensation.  It is critically important that you consult with a lawyer as soon as possible after your bite to reserve your rights and claims properly.  Call the lawyers at Eng & Woods at 573-874-4190. 

What Is the Law on Dog Bites in Missouri?

Primarily, a dog owner’s liability when their dog bites someone is governed under Missouri law by section 273.036 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri.  This statute provides that the “owner or possessor” of any dog that bites without provocation someone on public property or who is lawfully on private property, that the dog owner is strictly liable for the damages sustained by the victim.  Many have heard of the “one bite rule,” but that is no longer the law in Missouri if section 273.036 applies to the facts of the case.  There is no longer a requirement that the victim demonstrates that the dog had previously bitten others or shown vicious propensities.   

Many cities, counties and townships developed laws to reduce dog bites and other unwanted behavior.  Some of those ordinances and regulations may also play a role in whether there is liability on the dog owner. For instance, many cities have ordinances prohibiting owners from letting their dogs run at large. If a dog running at large bites someone, there may well be liability on the dog owner based on a violation of the local ordinance as well as under other laws and ordinances.

To recap, if a dog has bitten you in Missouri, the owner is liable if:

  • Their dog bites without provocation. Provocation is one of the most common defenses that dog owners use in dog bite cases. The dog owner may claim that you threatened the dog or the owner or approached the dog in an aggressive manner and that you, therefore, are responsible for your injuries. 
  • The bite happens on public property or while you are lawfully visiting private property. If there is proof that the victim was trespassing at the time of the bite, that could result in a finding that the dog owner is not liable.   

How Much Can I Sue for a Dog Bite?

Personal injury lawsuits and settlements for dog bites vary depending on the severity of the bite, the owner’s negligence and what percentage of the blame the court assigns to you for the incident.  It is important to take regular pictures of any dog bite injuries as it heals.  It may also be necessary at some point for your lawyer to engage a plastic surgeon or some other doctor to evaluate any scarring or disfigurement that remains once the bite is fully healed.  

Some compensation amounts can be significant to cover major medical interventions like surgery, vaccinations and post-bite recovery, such as physical therapy or plastic surgery. 

What Should I Do if Someone Else’s Dog Has Wrongfully Injured Me?

If a dog bites you, here are the steps you want to take.

  • Address the wound and seek medical attention. The severity of the bite will make a difference in how soon you will need to find a healthcare provider. For severe bites, you should call emergency services immediately. 
  • Contact the authorities. Calling the police or animal control is vital to making sure no one else suffers the same injury. The police can then file a report with details from the incident and make sure the dog owner has to remedy their dog’s living situation. 
  • Gather evidence. Taking pictures of your injury and the location of the incident helps build your case. Write down every detail you can remember from the incident. Include items like:
    • What the dog looked like
    • The time, date and location of the incident
    • The location of the injury on your body
    • The names and phone numbers of any witnesses
    • The owner’s name and any contact information
    • Medical expenses
    • Estimation of lost wages if you had to take time off from work to recover
  • Contact a personal injury attorney. A personal injury attorney can help you through every step of the dog bite claim process. They will fight for you to make sure that you get the compensation that you deserve. 

Do you need an experienced attorney with a reputation for winning? Contact the lawyers at Eng and Woods attorneys at law at 573-874-4190. We’ll fight to make sure that you get the compensation you deserve.

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  • Columbia Office
    903 E. Ash Street
    Columbia, Missouri 65201
    Phone: 573-874-4190
    Fax: 573-874-4192
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