In Missouri, Who is Liable for Dog Bites?
By Chris Dixon
In most states in the U.S. a dog owner isn’t automatically liable for an animal’s actions. However in the state of Missouri, if a dog bite’s someone without provocation, the dog’s owner is strictly liable for the dog’s behavior and is required to compensate victim’s for their harm and losses. That being said, it’s essential to have an experienced lawyer on your side when proving the dog owner’s liability. In certain situations there can be more than one person liable, or the other party’s insurance company could attempt to pin responsibility for the accident on you, but with a Missouri Dog Bite Lawyer by your side, liability in your dog bite accident can quickly be determined, and your lawyer can offer invaluable support during this challenging time.
Proving Liability in a Dog Bite Accident
If you have been involved in a dog bite accident, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries or financial damages caused by the attack. Missouri’s Statute of Limitations states that if someone is harmed by another person, or by a product that someone else is responsible for, the victim has the right to file a claim and sue for damages. In dog bite cases, if a person is attacked by a dog unprovoked, or without trespassing on someone’s property, the owner is “strictly liable” for the animal’s actions, and is required to compensate victims for injuries or financial damages if the victim brings a valid claim. When filing a dog bite claim, it’s crucial to include as much information from the accident as possible, and include the following pieces of evidence:
- Proof of injury – photos of wounds, video, torn clothing, a report from your treating physician
- Contact information – if possible, it’s essential to get the contact information, address, and name of the dog’s owner
- Police report – immediately after the accident, it’s crucial to report the attack to the police and file an official report. A police report preserves details from the accident and can protect you if the dog’s owner decides to claim that you were trespassing at the time of the accident
- Animal Control Report – if an animal causes harm to someone, unprovoked, it’s essential to report the incident to St. Louis Animal Control. Animal Control keeps records of attacks, and if the dog has attacked someone in the past, this information can be used to prove that the animal is a threat to others
While it’s essential to provide the above elements with your claim, it’s important to keep in mind that Missouri has a strict deadline for filing injury claims. Even if the above pieces of evidence are collected, and the dog’s owner is liable in the accident, if the victim attempts to file a dog bite claim after Missouri’s five-year injury Statute, their claim is invalid, and they forfeit all rights to sue the dog’s owner for damages.
Is the Owner Always Liable in a Dog Bite Accident?
Missouri’s dog bite statute §273.036 states that if someone provokes a dog, the owner is not liable for the dog’s actions. For example, if a person yells at a dog, or attempts to grab the animal, and is bitten, the owner is likely not liable for the victim’s injuries. Other situations where a dog’s owner may not be liable for a dog bite accident include if the person was trespassing on private property, or if it can easily be proved that the other person was partially responsible for their injuries. For example, if a person tries to pet a dog on public property without permission from the dog’s owner, and is bitten, the person might be assigned a percentage of fault for the accident. Missouri follows the rule of comparative negligence, which allows for a court to assign a percentage of fault in the accident to one single party, or all parties involved, and reduce or eliminate damages in the accident accordingly. For example, if a person is bitten by a dog, but is considered 70 percent at fault for the accident, their total damages award will be reduced by 70%.
Speak with a Missouri Dog Bite Lawyer Today
If you have suffered harm in a dog bite accident, you have the right to file a claim, and could be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Dog bite accidents can be traumatic and cause permanent physical and psychological damages on victims depending on the severity of the accident.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of a dog bite accident in Missouri, you need the Dixon Injury Firm by your side. Our St. Louis Dog Bite Lawyers are committed to aggressively fighting for the most compensation for your case and making sure that you and your family are taken care of during this terrible time. Christopher Dixon has repeatedly been recognized as a “Top 100 Trial Lawyer” by the National Trial Lawyers Association and has recovered more than $35,000,000 in settlements and recoveries for personal injury victims in Missouri.
For more information on how Chris Dixon and the St. Louis Dog Bite Lawyers at the Dixon Injury Firm can produce the best results for your dog bite case, call (314) 409-7060, 855-40-2724 (toll-free), or contact the Dixon Injury Firm today to schedule a free consultation.