Can a Dog Owner Be Sued for a Dog Bite in Missouri?
Updated: Feb 24
Dogs make great pets, providing years of love and companionship. Unfortunately, some dogs, particularly aggressive ones, can be a liability for their owners.
A victim of a dog attack is liable for compensation for their injuries and must file a dog bite lawsuit or claim to obtain compensation for their injuries. Dog bite claims and lawsuits are handled by personal injury lawyers in Missouri.
Here are a few important things that both dog owners and victims should know.
What to Do After a Dog Attack
An attack from a dog can be a horrific experience that results in physical injuries such as pain and suffering, scars, infections, diseases, and emotional trauma.
Victims of such attacks should seek legal counsel from an experienced personal injury law office in St. Louis, Missouri, who can begin the investigation.
This involves acquiring recorded statements from all parties involved, interviewing neighbors or witnesses who may have witnessed the attack or noticed previous aggressive behavior in the dog, and obtain official reports from the police or animal control.
Dog Bite Laws in Missouri
According to Missouri Revised Statutes section 273.036.1, if a dog bites someone, the owner of the dog is liable for the subsequent injuries, provided:
● These injuries were the result of the dog bite
● The attack occurred on public property or lawful private property
● Provocation of the dog did not cause the incident
The statute also asserts that if a dog owner is found liable for a dog attack, he or she must pay a $1,000 fine, in addition to any other damages or injuries that the victim can prove in the case. This includes damage to property or medical bills.
Additionally, the dog bite statute in Missouri is a "strict liability" statute, which means that it is applicable even if the owner of the dog took precautionary measures to restrain the dog or prevent the attack from happening.
Any lawsuit filed under section 273.036.1 must be done so within the allotted time frame.
Missouri’s “One-bite” Law
Although some states have a "one bite" law in place, others compensate victims if the dog owner's irresponsibility contributed to the attack. Furthermore, Missouri law strictly protects all dog bite victims' rights, and places the responsibility on the owner of the dog. A St Louis dog bite lawyer can assist victims in determining their legal rights following a dog bite and can be affordably beneficial.
Dog bite injuries can be serious, resulting in permanent disabilities. Large dogs could remove large amounts of muscle and tissue, requiring victims to undergo painful surgeries, and even skin grafts, to recover.
When this happens, medical bills can pile up, and with injuries, victims may not return to work, which makes it difficult to cover these expenses. A St. Louis dog bite lawyer can assist in navigating the law and claiming due compensation.
Missouri once had a “one-bite” law, which meant that a victim could only file a lawsuit if the dog had a history of attacking people. It was up to the victim to demonstrate that the dog was dangerous and that the owner knew this.
However, recent changes in the law in Missouri have put the burden squarely on the dog owner's shoulders.
How Long Do Victims Have to File a Claim?
The time frame that victims must file a claim varies from state to state. In Missouri, dog bite victims have five years from the date of the incident to file a claim.
If the claim is not filed within this period, the victim is no longer eligible for compensation, and the court may throw the case out.
In a few cases, the court may extend this deadline. A victim must strive to seek compensation as soon as possible, even if they decide to get compensation without filing a lawsuit.
However, it may not be easy, so victims must always leave enough time to take legal action if things do not go as planned with settlements.
If a victim is concerned that their state's filing deadline is nearing, or if settlement negotiations have slowed, it may be time to reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure their rights are upheld.
Even if the window has closed, a lawyer can determine whether their situation is eligible for an exemption that would allow the statute of limitations to be extended.
Contact Powell Law Firm
Kenneth Powell and his legal team are dedicated to fighting for the rights of those involved in dog attacks. Contact Powell Law Firm for a free consultation today!