What Happens in Missouri if Your Dog Bites Someone
Updated: Feb 24
Does your canine friend have a history of being violent toward strangers or other dogs? Even if it doesn't, you should always pay close attention to how your dog behaves in front of people. Some dogs have aggressive episodes more often than others or are more prone to biting. But what happens in Missouri if your dog bites someone, and how do the state laws determine liability?
Any responsible citizen and a conscientious dog owner might be interested in this topic. However, it is usually negligent pet parents who get into this kind of situation more often. So, if you don’t want to be one of them, or your dog is simply a bit problematic, here's what you should know.
One Bite Law in Missouri
Until 2009, the state of Missouri followed the "one bite" law. Back then, this state had a different way of determining liability when it came to dog bites. According to this law, an aggressive dog could only be held responsible if it already had a history of such behavior. But the "one bite" law seemed to have had a couple of drawbacks which later led to the changes in the law.
To begin with, this law protected the dogs that, up until then, had no history of being violent. One can weigh whether that's a good thing or not. On the one hand, a previously non-violent dog should probably be given the benefit of the doubt. If anything, a person who's just been bitten wouldn’t care if the dog is a first offender or not.
In other words, the "one bite" law puts more responsibility on the victim. Back then, the victim had to prove that the dog that bit them was a threat to passers-by. If they managed to do it, the liability would fall onto the dog owner. So, before the state law changed, the victims had to prove the dog owners were aware of the potential risks of walking an aggressive dog near people and children.
The Updated Dog Bite Law in Missouri
In 2009, Missouri's updated dog bite law made it possible for any dog bite victim to sue the owner. According to this law, it no longer matters whether a dog is a first offender or not. Even dogs with no history of biting are now held accountable the first time they display such behavior. More precisely, the blame falls on their owners either way.
If someone’s dog bites a person, they can seek financial compensation from the dog’s owner. However, two things need to be established first — did the victim provoke the dog’s attack in any way, and were they trespassing.
To determine the circumstances surrounding the attack, most victims will turn to dog bite compensation lawyers for help. The victim will hire a lawyer to investigate the case and try to recover any damages caused by this incident. The lawyer will also be the one to explain how much a dog bite lawsuit is worth.
What Happens During the Dog Bite Investigation?
Experts determine dog bite liability based on the evidence collected at the scene of the event. The victim's attorney will try to get hold of all the reports necessary for future investigation. They'll try to obtain the police and animal control reports as well as the recorded witness statements. More importantly, they'll also have the recording of the dog owner's statement and might even interview their neighbors to find out how this dog usually behaves.
In some cases, dog bite lawyers might put the relationship between the dog and its owner under the microscope. They may try to prove that the pet's aggression stems from the owner’s neglect, maltreatment, or abuse. They will also investigate whether the pet’s owner has a history of violence. If the dog bite victim manages to prove the full liability of the dog's owner, they may get the maximum compensation for their injuries.
Even if a dog has never shown any signs of aggression, paying close attention to how it behaves around strangers is crucial. If a dog bites someone, the first thing the victim's lawyer will do is try to prove the owner’s negligence. Missouri's updated dog bite law now means that any dog (and its owner) will be fully responsible for injuring a person without being provoked. The victim will get the maximum compensation for their injuries, lost wages, and emotional trauma.