• Kenneth Powell

Does Missouri Have a One Bite Rule?

Although taking care of an animal involves a lot of work and expenses, most owners agree that the benefits outweigh the costs. However, even the most gentle pet can inflict injuries on someone else. And while that’s certainly the case, few people actually press charges in order to protect the animal against euthanasia.


Fortunately, there are a couple of laws and regulations that guarantee the safety of an animal even after an attack. One of those is the one bite rule which helps ensure that innocent dogs are not put down unnecessarily. But how does the one bite rule affect a dog bite case, and does Missouri enforce it?


What Counts as a Dog Bite?

What Counts as a Dog Bite?


Before discussing the laws and rules surrounding dog bites, it’s essential to understand when one has occurred. Most people think that a dog bite only counts when there is skin damage. As a result, many victims don’t report their injuries and have to cover their own medical expenses. In reality, a dog bite happens whenever a dog’s mouth closes around someone’s body part. As a matter of fact, drawn blood and broken skin are irrelevant when deciding what counts as a dog bite.


On the other hand, we have another article tackling what happens if your dog bites another dog in Missouri.


What Is the One Bite Rule?


According to the one bite rule, the first time a dog bites someone, they are not required to be euthanized. The rule accounts for accidents where an animal was unfairly provoked or acted out of character. It’s important to remember that while dog bite laws are usually strict, they allow for some leniency toward the animals themselves. Most courts understand that biting incidents result from an abnormal situation and are not the norm.


Owner Responsibility

The one bite rule doesn’t mean that there are no consequences for a dog’s first bite. Its purpose is to avoid unnecessary euthanasia of dogs that haven’t shown signs of aggression beforehand. However, owners can be held responsible if they already know that their dog’s breed is prone to aggression or if the dog is not very friendly in general.


For instance, if an owner knows that their dog gets aggressive around kids, but still brings it to a picnic with children, then the one bite rule doesn’t apply in the case of an attack. At the end of the day, owners should take all the necessary precautions to ensure, as humanly possible, that the dog won’t cause harm.


Does Missouri Enforce the One Bite Rule?

Missouri was a one bite state, meaning that the owner wasn’t at fault if their dog never showed signs of being a danger. In fact, a dog was allowed one bite before the owner was liable for future bites. However, in 2009, the state adopted a more harsh regulation called strict liability.


Missouri Strict Liability


According to the Missouri strict liability statute, the owner is liable for a dog bite if:


● The victim didn’t provoke the dog.

● The injury is the result of a dog bite.

● The injured person was lawfully on private or public property.


According to strict liability, the owner liable for their dog’s bite needs to pay a fine of $1,000.00. That’s in addition to any other damages that the victim can request, like property damage or medical bills.


It’s also important to mention that due to strict liability, even if the owner took care to restrain the dog or tried to prevent it from attacking, they are still liable. However, the victim will have to file the lawsuit within the applicable time limits set by local law.


Contact the Powell Law Firm Today


All in all, dog bites can affect victims both physically and emotionally. Not only do they cause costly injuries, but dog bites can also cause trauma which will require years of therapy to overcome. But thanks to Missouri's strict liability statute, victims can request compensation from the dog’s owner.


However, the process can be lengthy and overwhelming, especially for those who have never dealt with a dog bite case. Fortunately, victims can always hire a dog bite lawyer in St Louis to handle their claims. These professionals will fight tooth and nail to make sure that dog bite victims receive fair compensation while also protecting pet owners from false accusations.