Every year, more than 4 million cases of dog bites are reported in the United States. That is nothing to sneeze at considering some cases of dog bites have ended up in death and others life changing injuries.
Fortunately, there are laws that protect victims of dog bites and ensure justice is served to them. Missouri and a few other states are considered strict liability states, which means the owner of the dog is almost automatically held liable for damage in the event their dog bites someone. This doesn’t take into account the dog’s past and if there is any history of aggressive behavior. You can sue and be compensated for injuries from a dog bite if you were lawfully on private land (the dog owner’s included) and there is no evidence you provoked the dog.
If the victim was bit while trespassing, they will not be protected by the strict liability law. Provoking the dog includes taking a treat or toy out of its mouth, exhibiting aggressive behavior towards it, and unnecessarily invading its personal space. Basically doing anything that may prompt the dog into thinking they are being attacked can lead to rejection of a personal injury claim.
It is clear that proving you did not elicit the aggressive reaction from the dog may be difficult if there were no witnesses. Your claim may thus be denied even if the dog owner is actually liable for the injuries. Consider having a seasoned personal injury lawyer from a recognized law firm in St. Louis to help investigate the incident and build a case for you. Also ensure you seek immediate medical attention regardless of the extent of the injury just in case the dog owner’s insurance company or judge demands to review the medical records.
What should dog bite victims prove to be compensated?
Being a personal injury case, you would expect dog injury victims to have to prove that there was negligence on the dog owner’s part and that the injuries sustained were caused by the negligence. Well, this is hardly the case. The strict liability laws save you the hassle of having to prove that the defendant was negligent.
You also don’t need to prove that the dog has a history of aggressive behavior or has ever bitten visitors. All you need to prove is that you did not provoke the dog and that you were not trespassing or were on public property at the time of the attack. Of course, you must also prove that the injury in its entirety was as a result of the dog bite and not contributed to by a previous accident.
Penalties to liable dog owners
If the dog owner is found guilty of negligence, they will be ordered to pay a fine of $1,000. Any damages awarded will be paid separately by their insurance company.
Just like any other personal injury case, the severity of the injury will be the primary determinant of how much you will be awarded in damages.