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Aaron House

I Was Bitten by a Dog: Can I Sue?

If you were bitten by a dog in Missouri, you may have both civil and criminal remedies available to you, depending on the severity of your injury and the financial harm caused as a result. Unlike many other states, Missouri applies strict-liability for dog bite cases, which means that the owner is strictly liable for all damages resulting from the injury provided the statutory requirements are met. Applied successfully, this statute mandates that a dog’s owner must to pay for all medical expenses and damages resulting from the bite, as well as a $1,000 fine. Additional penalties may be available if it is determined that the owner was aware that the dog was dangerous and did not take reasonable precautions.

Missouri’s Dog Bite Statute

Missouri’s Dog Bite Statute holds dog owners strictly liable for damage caused by their dog’s bites, even if it is the first time their dog bit someone and there were no prior signs of aggression. However, there are still three main criteria that must be met—first, the injury must be the result of the dog bite. For instance, if the injury occurred due to a fall, which happened while jumping back from a dog, but the dog did not bite, the injury arguably did not occur from a dog bite. You may still be able to pursue civil damages for the injury if the owner was negligent in keeping the dog from lunging or jumping at you, but this statute may not apply.

Second, the bite must have occurred on public property or the injured individual must have been on private property with permission or otherwise legally. If you did not have permission or a legal reason to be on another person’s property and their dog bit you, you likely will not have recourse under this statute. However, if you were bitten while on the sidewalk, in a public area, at a friend’s home (who invited you over), or at a private business, then this statute will likely apply. Finally, you must not have done anything to provoke the dog. It is important to note that provocation does not necessarily mean you were taunting the dog. If you approached the dog without first asking the owner if it was okay to do so and tried to touch it without warning, this could be seen as provocation that could result in a reduction of amount of damages under the statute (see below). For this reason, it is always important to exercise caution when you are on public property and animals are around. The same is true when on private property as well.

The provocation criteria becomes especially relevant when the “damaged party’s fault contributed to the incident.” Under the statute, when an individual bitten was partially responsible for being bitten due to some act of negligence on their part, their damages will be reduced by their percentage of fault. For instance, approaching a dog without warning or permission would likely be seen as some degree of contributory negligence. For each percentage the victim is found to be at fault for their injury, their damages award is reduced proportionately.

Contact a Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured, it is important to speak with an experienced Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at House Law LLC will assess your unique circumstances and fight to get you justice. Call 816-875-4260 to schedule your free consultation today.

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