It’s easy to forget dogs are the descendants of wild animals when they’re starring in social media posts. However, when dogs are scared, startled, or in protection mode, they can seriously injure those around them.
Dog bites may send their victims, especially children and the elderly, to the hospital. They come with a risk of disease. The worst bites can even require reconstructive surgery to fix. There are even cases in which a dog inadvertently hurts someone by knocking them over in a bout of excitement.
If you were hurt by someone else’s dog, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. You could be eligible for compensation even if the dog has no history of aggression and/or did not mean to hurt you.
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Filing a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Missouri
If you were attacked by someone else’s dog anywhere in Missouri, the good news is that you are likely eligible to file a lawsuit. Our state’s strict liability rules mean that whenever you are legally on someone’s property, they are responsible for keeping their dog under control. The law protects dog park attendees, social guests, delivery drivers, utility workers, and so on. As long as you were not trespassing when you were bit, you should have a claim.
To seek financial compensation for a dog bite, you must demonstrate the following components of your case:
- The dog owner (or person in charge of the dog when it attacked) owed you a duty of care. In short, the person who had custody of the dog was obligated to protect you from the animal.
- The dog’s owner or custodian neglected this duty. For example, the owner may have allowed the dog off its leash in a public place when they knew the dog had a history of aggressive behavior.
- This act of negligence was directly responsible for your injury. This is called proximate cause and draws a direct link between the owner’s liability, the dog’s aggressive behavior, and your damages.
Injuries Caused by Animal Attacks
While many animal bites are small wounds, these injuries can actually cause permanent scarring and other complications. For example, if the wound becomes infected, then you will need serious medical care urgently.
Dog bites can result in:
- Permanent scars
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Tendon damage
- Diseases such as rabies
Treatment for Animal Bites
After suffering a bite from a dog or pet, especially one that you do not know, you should head to urgent care. You never know when an animal bite will carry bacteria and viruses that could cause even a mild cut to become a major health concern a few hours or days later. Explain to the doctor what happened, and they will not only offer a treatment plan for you, but they will also mark in your medical record when the dog bite occurred. This record could be used as strong evidence in your favor later.
With this said, you should treat any dog bite that breaks the skin seriously. Even “minor” cuts require your immediate attention and medical care from a professional.
Non-Bite Injury Claims
If your injuries were caused by another type of dog attack — for instance, the animal bowled you over — you may have a slightly harder time prevailing in court, as you will have to prove the owner was negligent. The simple fact of an attack does not serve as evidence if that attack was not a bite. In this scenario, our attorneys can investigate for evidence the owner knew their dog could be dangerous and therefore should have kept it under control. Working within existing injury law, we can help you bring a compelling claim.
Comparative Negligence in Dog Bite Claims
Because dog owners are presumed negligent if their animal attacks someone, they may try to defend themselves by assigning fault to the victim. Under Missouri’s comparative negligence laws, an injury victim can only recover damages if they are less than 50% at fault; and if any percentage of the blame rests with the victim, their final settlement can be reduced by that amount. Therefore, it’s important to seek a lawyer, so you have someone to defend you against unfair accusations of blame.
Here’s what you should be prepared for as you consider a claim.
A defensive dog owner may claim that you provoked their dog, essentially saying you brought the attack on yourself. While alleging provocation may make it more challenging for your claim to succeed, it does not mean recovery will be barred. Instead, a dog owner may still be liable if it can be shown the dog has vicious and dangerous characteristics, regardless of whether provocation occurred. In most cases, allegations of provocation are not true, but only having your word against the dog owner’s may make your claim harder to prove. Our attorneys can search for video evidence and interview witnesses to strengthen your claim.
Can Children Be Held Liable?
Though Missouri law does not specify at what age children can be considered negligent, most judges will not hold a small child responsible if they are attacked by a dog. It would be unreasonable to do so. However, this does not mean the owner of a dog that bit the child will not try to make this argument.
A parent could be considered negligent in a case where a child was bitten if, for instance, they left their child around a dog unattended. This would affect the parent’s ability to recover compensation for their child.
If you are filing a suit on behalf of a child, it’s important to know and prepare for these complications. Our attorneys can step in to help.
Schedule your free consultation by calling our Springfield office at (417) 855-2022. Our experienced dog bite lawyers are here to answer your questions.
Our team at Strong-Garner-Bauer P.C. is ready to help. We’ve been fighting for the injured for 45 years, helping thousands find justice after an injury caused by someone else’s negligence.
Recovering from a dog bite takes time and energy, which is why having a strong law firm on your side matters. Our team at Strong-Garner-Bauer P.C. is here to help people whose lives have been affected by injury find a way forward. We can provide the caring, honest guidance you need while advancing your legal claim—all without you having to do any extra work.
Every client of Strong-Garner-Bauer P.C. gets top-tier service, with a team of at least 2 lawyers, a nurse paralegal, a paralegal, and additional support staff assigned to every case. This strategy helps us build strong, trial-ready cases. Additionally, with our name on your side, insurers will know you are serious about finding justice. We are ready to start your case today, so reach out if you were injured by a dog bite or attack. We know the laws surrounding dog bite cases in Missouri and can help you build a personalized legal strategy if you were injured.
Call us at (417) 855-2022 today to learn more about your dog bite case. We offer free consultations to people in and around Springfield.
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