You have rights after being bitten by a dog, and we're here to protect them. Call Martin & Wallentine today.
Many people in Missouri love dogs. With over 400,000 registered dogs, it's clear that canines are a big part of life for many Missourians. However, this love for dogs can also come with risks. Missouri sees many dog bite incidents each year, with thousands of cases reported annually. These incidents can profoundly impact the lives of those involved physically and emotionally.
Dog bites cause injuries ranging from minor cuts and scrapes to severe wounds requiring surgery. Some people who get attacked by a dog may suffer from infections, scarring, nerve damage, and more. The road to recovery from a dog bite attack can be long and difficult, and it may include facing medical bills, lost wages, and other financial hardships. Beyond the physical toll, a dog bite can also be a traumatic experience that can leave lasting emotional scars.
Your Road to Recovery Starts Here
At Martin & Wallentine, we understand the challenges that dog bite victims are likely to face. Our experienced team of personal injury attorneys has helped numerous clients with dog bite cases navigate the legal system to seek justice and compensation for their injuries. We know that a dog bite can be a life-changing experience, and we're here to provide compassionate support and aggressive representation to help you get the best possible outcome.
If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite in Missouri, act quickly to protect your rights. Missouri law holds dog owners strictly liable for any injuries caused by their pets. You may be entitled to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. Contact Martin & Wallentine today to schedule a consultation and learn more about your legal options.
Types of Injuries from Dog Bites
Dog bites can result in a wide range of physical and emotional injuries. Physical injuries can include:
- Puncture wounds
A dog bite can sometimes lead to more severe injuries, such as nerve damage, broken bones, and infections. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, one out of every five dog bites becomes infected, and infections can lead to life-altering complications.
In addition to physical injuries, dog bites can also cause emotional trauma. Victims of dog bites may experience the following:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
In many cases the person injured may even develop a fear of dogs, which can significantly impact their daily lives.
What to Do If A Dog Has Bitten You
A dog bite can have long-term consequences, both physically and emotionally. If you've been bitten by a dog in Missouri, don't wait to seek medical attention. Even if the bite appears minor, have a medical professional examine the wound to ensure it's properly cleaned and treated.
Additionally, report the bite to your local animal control agency so they can help determine if the dog is up-to-date on its vaccinations and whether any other action needs to be taken. Remember, taking prompt action can help protect your health and legal rights, so don't hesitate to seek medical care and report the incident.
Missouri Dog Bite Triggers and Causes
Imagine you're enjoying a lovely day with your family at the park. Suddenly, you hear barking and see a big dog running towards you, off-leash and without its owner in sight. You try to stay calm, but the dog lunges at you and bites your hand. The pain is excruciating, and you need medical attention immediately. Sadly, these incidents can happen due to a variety of reasons, such as the following:
Dogs can become aggressive for various reasons, such as fear, territoriality, or mistreatment. Dogs not socialized with humans or other dogs are also at higher risk of exhibiting aggressive behavior.
Dogs not trained to obey basic commands and follow social cues are likelier to become anxious or aggressive, leading to potential bites. In some cases, aggressive dogs may have even been trained to attack or act aggressively, resulting in severe injuries or even fatalities.
Dogs left alone for extended periods or abandoned altogether can become anxious, fearful, and aggressive. This can happen due to the dog starving. Owners who fail to provide adequate food, shelter, and medical care for their dogs may cause them to become unhealthy and more prone to aggressive behavior.
Places Where Dog Bites Are Common
Dog bites can occur anywhere, but certain places have a higher risk than others. Children are particularly vulnerable because they may not know how to interact with dogs or protect themselves from an aggressive dog. The following locations are where dog bites are common:
Dog parks are popular places for dogs and their owners to socialize, but they can also be places where dog bites occur. In Missouri, popular dog parks include Shaw Dog Park in St. Louis and Bar K Dog Bar in Kansas City. Unfortunately, because some people bring their untrained dogs to dog parks and let them off leash, dog attacks can happen.
Dog bites are also common in residential neighborhoods, particularly when dogs can roam freely or are not properly restrained. It is essential to be aware of your surroundings when walking or running in residential areas and avoid approaching aggressive or fearful dogs.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
A dog bite can be a traumatic and painful experience that leaves physical and emotional scars. If someone else's dog bit you, take the following actions to protect your health and legal rights:
Seek Medical Care - The first step after a dog bite is to seek medical attention, even if the wound seems minor. Dog bites can cause serious injuries, such as puncture wounds, lacerations, and infections.
Report the Accident - Report the incident to animal control or the local police department. Animal control can investigate the incident and determine if the dog has a history of aggression or has previously bitten someone.
Document the Incident - Documenting the incident and preserving any evidence is essential. Take photos of the injuries, including bruises, cuts, and puncture wounds.
Get Contact Information - Obtain contact information for witnesses who saw the incident. Witnesses can provide crucial testimony if a legal case arises.
Keep Records - Track all medical treatment and expenses related to the dog attack or bite. Keeping track of all medical treatment and costs related to a dog bite can help victims establish the extent of their injuries and ensure they receive fair compensation for their damages.
Consult a Lawyer - Speak with a Missouri dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. A dog bite lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and determine if you have a case against the dog owner or another liable party.
Missouri Dog Bite Laws
A dog bite occurs when a dog's teeth break the skin, causing injury. While some dog bites may not cause significant harm, others can result in serious injuries that require medical attention.
Missouri classifies dog bites as either "provoked" or "unprovoked." Provoked bites occur when a person intentionally or unintentionally aggravates a dog. This behavior can include teasing, hitting, or otherwise bothering a dog. The dog may be more likely to bite in self-defense in these cases.
On the other hand, unprovoked bites occur when a dog bites without being provoked. These bites can occur for various reasons, such as fear, aggression, or territoriality.
One Bite Rule
Missouri operates under the one-bite rule, which means that dog owners are generally not liable for their dog's first bite unless they knew or should have known that the dog had a propensity to bite. The owner can be held responsible for future bites once they are aware of the dog's aggressive behavior. Violating a state or local leash law may also make the owner strictly liable for any injuries caused by their dog, even without a prior history of biting.
Safety Laws for Dog Bites
In addition to Missouri's dog bite laws, the state has specific rules to protect the safety of both dogs and humans. These laws require dogs to be leashed or confined in a fenced area outside their owner's property. Missouri law also prohibits dog owners from allowing dogs to run off leash in public places.
Furthermore, Missouri law requires all dogs over three months to be vaccinated against rabies. Failure to comply with this law can result in fines and legal consequences for the owner.
Missouri law requires all dog owners to restrain and control their dogs in public properly. This rule means that if a dog attacks or injures someone in a public place, and the dog was unrestrained, the owner can be held liable for any injuries or damages caused by their dog, even if it was the first time the dog has bitten someone.
Who Is Liable for Dog Bites in Missouri?
Being bitten by a dog can be a terrifying and life-altering experience, leaving the attacked person with serious physical injuries and emotional trauma. If you have been bitten by a dog in Missouri, knowing your rights and holding the responsible parties accountable for their negligence is important.
Under Missouri law, the owner of a dog can be held liable for any injuries caused by their pet. This law includes not only the owner of the dog but also anyone who has control over the animal, such as a dog walker or pet sitter. Liability can also extend to landlords or property owners if they knew or should have known that a tenant's dog was dangerous.
Negligence and Liability in Missouri Dog Bite Cases
In Missouri, two primary legal theories are used to hold someone liable for a dog bite: negligence and strict liability.
Negligence requires proving that the defendant failed to take reasonable care in preventing the dog from biting and that this failure caused the plaintiff's injuries.
Strict liability, however, does not require proving negligence or fault on the defendant's part. Strict liability holds the defendant responsible for the dog's actions, regardless of whether they knew or should have known the dog was dangerous.
Missouri follows the "pure comparative negligence" rule, which means that even if the plaintiff is partially responsible for their injuries, they can still recover damages, albeit reduced by their percentage of fault.
Defenses to Dog Bite Cases
Defendants in a dog bite lawsuit may raise several defenses to avoid liability for the plaintiff's injuries. One common defense is provocation, which asserts that the plaintiff's actions incited the dog to bite. Another defense is the assumption of risk, which claims that the plaintiff knew of the dog's dangerous tendencies and willingly assumed the risk of being bitten. Having a Missouri dog bite lawyer representing you can help make sure these defenses will not hold up in your valid dog bite claim.
Damages You Can Recover in a Missouri Dog Bite Lawsuit
Although dogs are often considered friendly and loyal companions, they can also pose a danger to people. A dog bite can result in injuries requiring medical treatment, including stitches, surgery, and therapy. The emotional toll of a dog bite can also be significant, causing anxiety and fear that can last long after the physical wound has healed. If you have been bitten by a dog in Missouri due to someone else's negligence, you may be entitled to the following compensation for your damages:
Medical expenses are among the most common damages in a dog bite claim. Dog bites can cause injuries, from minor cuts and bruises to more severe injuries, such as broken bones, nerve damage, and scarring. This cost can include emergency room visits, surgeries, hospital stays, and rehabilitation.
Another type of damage that can be recovered in a Missouri dog bite case is lost wages. If the dog bite victim cannot work due to their injuries, they may be entitled to compensation for their lost wages.
Pain and Suffering
In addition to economic damages, victims of a dog bite attack may also be entitled to non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. This damage compensates the victim for the physical pain and emotional distress caused by the dog bite.
Missouri has no set formula for calculating pain and suffering damages. Instead, factors such as the severity of the injury, the length of recovery time, and the impact on the victim's daily life are considered.
Emotional distress refers to the psychological impact on the person who got bit, including fear, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In Missouri, you may be entitled to compensation for emotional distress if the dog bite caused emotional harm.
In Missouri, damages in a dog bite case are calculated by adding up the victim's economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages, and multiplying that total by a particular variable to account for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages. The multiplier used will depend on the severity of the dog bite injuries, the recovery time, and the impact on the claimant's daily life.
FAQs for Missouri Dog Bite Victims
Which dog breeds are more likely to bite?
The dog breeds most commonly involved in reported dog bite incidents include Pit Bulls, mixed-breed dogs, German Shepherds, Bulldogs, and Australian Shepherds.
What if the dog that bit me was a stray?
If the dog that bit you was a stray, you may still be able to pursue compensation for your damages. However, the process may be more complicated. It is best to consult a Missouri dog bite lawyer and explain exactly what happened to get their professional opinion on whether you have a valid case.
What if the dog's owner doesn't have insurance?
Even if the dog's owner does not have insurance, you may still be able to pursue compensation through other means. An experienced Missouri dog bite lawyer can help you explore all available options for recovering damages.
How much does it cost to hire a dog-bite lawyer in Missouri?
Most dog bite lawyers in Missouri work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only get paid if and when they win your case. The fee is typically a percentage of the compensation you receive, and the exact percentage may vary depending on the lawyer and the specifics of your dog bite injury case.
What if the dog owner is a friend or family member?
If the dog that bit you belongs to a friend or family member, it can be challenging to know what to do. You may be entitled to compensation for your damages, regardless of your relationship with the dog owner. However, pursuing a claim against a friend or family member can be complicated and emotional. A dog bite attorney can help you navigate this situation and work to find a fair resolution for everyone involved.
How long do I have to file a dog bite lawsuit in Missouri?
In Missouri, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits, including dog bite cases, is five years from the date of the injury. This means you have five years from the date of the dog bite to file a lawsuit. However, you should still contact a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to ensure your case is filed within the statute of limitations and to give your lawyer time to investigate the incident and gather evidence to support your dog attack claim.
Hold Negligent Dog Owners Accountable: Contact Martin & Wallentine
Dog bites can be severe and cause expensive medical bills, lost wages, and emotional trauma. You deserve justice and compensation if you've suffered a dog bite due to someone else's negligence in Missouri.
A personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the legal system and fight for your rights. Martin & Wallentine has a proven track record helping Missouri dog bite victims obtain compensation for their injuries and suffering. Our experienced St. Louis dog bite attorneys are committed to helping you get the compensation you deserve and holding responsible parties accountable for their actions.
Every day counts when you've sustained a personal injury such as a dog bite. You need a legal team to take your situation seriously, listen to your concerns, and begin working on your case immediately. At Martin & Wallentine, that's what we offer. With years of experience representing dog bite victims in Missouri, our attorneys have the knowledge and skills to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at 913-754-9700 to schedule a free consultation.
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