In the state of Missouri, dog bites are some of the most unusual personal injury cases the courts deal with. That’s because Missouri law differs from many other states which protect dog owners with “One Bite” laws. In the Show-Me state, local laws favor the victim of dog bites in nearly all cases.
Although pet owners might think their four-legged best friends are big softies, the truth is that dogs bite more than 5 million people every year, and a dozen or more of those victims die from infected bites annually.
What Makes Missouri Laws Different?
Missouri dog bite personal injury cases have what’s called “strict liability.” In other states, dogs and their owners are often protected the first time that dog lashes out and bites someone. The idea behind such “one bite” laws is that dogs and pet owners shouldn’t be punished or held liable for personal injury settlements if they had no way of knowing their dog would act aggressively.
In Missouri dog bite injuries, owners are liable for damages any time their dog injures someone, even if they had no way of predicting that their dog posed a threat. Not only that, but injured parties have up to five years to file personal injury cases. For pet owners there is one advantage: “strict liability” only applies to biting, not other injuries causes by dogs.
What are the specifics of Missouri’s Dog Bite Injury Statute?
According to Section 273.036 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, a dog owner can be held liable if:
- A dog bite results in injury
- The injured person was on public property or lawfully on private property
- The injured party did not provoke the dog into defending itself
- Even if the dog owner didn’t realize their dog posed a threat, or it’s the first time the dog acted in such a way
What are common defenses to Missouri’s Dog Bite Injury Laws?
- Provocation: the injured person forced the dog to defend against a threat, the injured person attacked the dog
- Trespassing: The person bringing the personal injury case was somewhere they weren’t supposed to be when the injury occurred
- Comparative Negligence: When damages are reduced or eliminated based on how much the injured person is determined to be at fault for the incident
Although Missouri’s dog bite injury laws might be controversial among pet owners, they’re designed to protect people seriously injured by dangerous animals. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, then contact personal injury attorneys about filing a case.