The idea that a dog is “man’s best friend“ dates back to Frederick II, King of Prussia from 1740 to 1786, who clearly adored his Italian greyhound. Unfortunately, some dogs are not so kind, and others momentarily lose their magnanimity toward humans. A dog attack can be both physically and emotionally damaging, and the injuries that result may be permanent. If you have been attacked and bitten by a canine, you might wonder about dog bite liability. Can the owner of the dog be held responsible? And if so, are there restrictions on this liability?
Dog Bite Liability
If you have been attacked and bitten by a dog, seek medical attention straightaway. After your injury has been evaluated and treated, consult with an attorney experienced in personal injury claims. If you aren’t already aware, you will need to determine who owns the dog. Then, your lawyer can help you determine whether or not the dog owner is liable for the incident. Although it may be difficult to ascertain, do you know if the dog has exhibited “dangerous propensities” in the past? Do you believe the dog owner knew the attack was possible or even likely? Could the owner have attempted to prevent the bite?
Dog bite liability varies from state to state, so today we are focusing on the system in place in Missouri. In our home state, there is a two-tier system for pet owners whose dogs have attacked another person:
- The first tier addresses dog owners who knowingly own a dog that is uncommonly dangerous or exhibits a vicious tendency. These owners are held strictly or automatically liable for the injuries their dog causes, even if they take steps to warn or protect the victim. A lawsuit pursuing this first form of liability can be tricky, because the prosecution must prove that the owner knew or should have known about the dog’s propensity for violence. Often, however, this burden of proof can be satisfied through evidence of prior bites, attacks, or aggressive behavior.
- The second tier addresses dog owners who own a dog that attacks someone at the owner’s residence or property. In this case, the dog owner may be held liable for the injuries caused by their dog if (1) the dog has displayed vicious propensities in the past, (2) the dog owner could have foreseen that these propensities created a danger for the visitor, and (3) the dog owner did not warn the visitor or attempt to prevent the attack.
Have you been attacked by a dog? Consult with an attorney to discover whether or not you have a legal claim and, if you do, what damages you may be able to recover from the dog’s owner, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage.
To get started, contact Replogle, Tyrrell, & Robertson, LLC. Our full-service law firm has offices in Marshfield and Springfield, Missouri, and we are committed to providing our clients with legal expertise and exceptional service. Our attorneys have experience with a variety of personal injury claims, including motor vehicle accidents, product liability, “slip and fall” cases, boating accidents, and dog bites. Plus, we will not charge you anything until we win your case. To get started, please give us a call at 417-859-3979. We look forward to hearing from you.