St. Louis Dog Bite Lawyer
Each year, more than 4.5 million people are injured in dog bite accidents. In 2016, there were 2,700 cases of dog bite injuries reported in the state of Missouri. Being bitten by a dog could lead to time missed from work and excess medical costs.
According to Missouri law, if you were bitten due to a negligent dog owner, you may sue in court. Not all dog bites lead to court proceedings but it helps to be familiar with dog bite laws. If you need an adept St. Louis Missouri dog bite lawyer, contact Hipskind & McAninch, LLC.
At Hipskind & McAninch, LLC we’ll demonstrate how much we care about you, and we’ll do everything in our power to build the argument that will get the best outcome for your dog bite claim.
How common are Missouri dog bites?
According to the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm, dog bite-related claims totaled $797 million in the United States in 2019. According to insurance company data, dog bite claims were responsible for one-third of all homeowner’s insurance payouts. In 2018, there were 338 dog bite insurance claims with an average cost of $39,764 or $13.4 million total in Missouri.
Do certain dog breeds bite more?
Data compiled by National Center for Injury Prevention and Control states that there isn’t a reliable way to determine which dog breeds are more likely to bite people. However, about 25 breeds have been involved in 238 dog bite fatalities over 24 years.
Pit bulls, Rottweilers, and mixes of the two have been found responsible for more than 50% of dog bite fatalities. Some would mistakenly argue that these breeds’ aggressive nature leads to dog bites, but the data suggests it’s due to their size and strength. Chihuahuas are also known for aggressively biting others but their small size prevents them from causing major injuries or fatalities.
St. Louis, MO Dog Bite Liability
Liability for pets is generally the dog owner’s responsibility. Missouri Revised Statutes section 273.036.1 states that if a dog owner’s pet bites someone else, the owner is liable for the resulting injuries when:
- the injury resulted from the dog bite
- the injured person was on public property or was lawfully on private property
- the injured person did not provoke the dog to bite
The MO statute also clarifies that an owner must pay a fine of $1,000, in addition to paying for all other damages that the injured person can prove they incurred after their bite. Missouri’s dog bite laws are strict liability statutes. This means that they apply even if the owner took reasonable care to restrain the dog or otherwise prevent the attack from occurring. Read on for more Missouri dog bite statutes that may apply to your claim.
Negligence and Missouri Dog Attack Laws
Missouri statutes specifically refer to dog bites but don’t speak specifically about other injuries that dogs might cause. However, many other types of dog behavior, such as clawing, scratching, and jumping can cause injuries as well.
If the injured person wants to recover damages for a non-bite injury caused by a dog, they will need to bring a negligence claim against the owner of the animal. The injured person will have to prove in court that the dog’s owner failed to use reasonable care and that this failure led to the injuries.
If you require assistance with your dog claim, contact Hipskind & McAninch, LLC to get in touch with knowledgeable dog bite law professionals. Meet with them for a free consultation today and get answers to all of your dog bite legal questions.
Criminal Penalties for Dog Bites in Missouri
Owners can face criminal charges if their dog causes an injury or death. Missouri Revised Statutes section 578.024 states that an owner can be convicted of a Class B misdemeanor for keeping a “dangerous dog.” A dangerous dog has previously bitten a person or another domestic animal without provocation and has bitten someone on a subsequent occasion.
The criminal penalties for keeping a dangerous dog in Missouri become more severe if the dog’s bite inflicts serious injuries. Owners can be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor if the second attack inflicts a serious injury and convicted of a Class E felony if both the first known attack and the second attack inflict a serious injury. St. Louis dog owners may also be convicted of a Class D felony when their dog kills someone.
MO Dog Safety Laws
If you can prove that dog owners violated applicable St. Louis dog safety laws, then this could help you accelerate the settlement or judgment in your claim. The following laws are particularly pertinent in dog bite cases:
Leash and Dog Park Laws
St. Louis ordinances contain strict pet and leash laws. Missouri City Ordinance 10.04.220 states that dog owners must leash their dogs while in public areas and that the leash may not be longer than six feet.
The St. Louis city government permits unleashed dogs in designated dog parks but specifies that the law does not allow aggressive or sick dogs in these exercise areas. According to the city ordinances, owners bear liability for the injuries caused by their dogs, and they must immediately remove uncontrollable dogs from public play areas and parks.
Missouri dog bite laws also enforce that defensive dog bites may reduce your available damages. Provocation can prohibit victims from recovering damages. Read on for more instances where dog bites may be justified or prevent dog bite victims from recovering damages.
Premises Liability Pet Laws
Dogs have more freedom in their homes, but this does not excuse aggressive conduct. General premises liability laws apply to dog bite injuries sustained on residential property. However, if the victim was a guest or had lawful access to the property, then the dog owner must take reasonable precautions to protect the guest from aggressive dogs.
Dog bite attorneys suggest dog owners do the following to prevent a dog attack and to prevent guests from becoming dog bite victims:
- Confine the dog in a designated area
- Hold small dogs close
- Warn guests not to interact with the animal
- Actively prevent larger and easily excitable dogs from jumping on guests
Adult trespassers, whether unintentionally or for criminal purposes, are not provided with the same legal protections from a dog attack. Trespassers may not recover damages for dog bites in most cases. Also, anyone who assaults, abuses, or harasses the dog will forfeit their right to recover dog bite damages.
Dog trainers, kennels, doggy daycares, and vets typically assume the risk of handling animals. However, this does not prevent injured workers from recovering financial damages. Dog owners ultimately bear responsibility for injuries caused by their pets, especially if they violate applicable leash laws.
Since local laws take the stance that individuals following local dog regulations can often prevent dog bites, any individual handling a dog can share in the liability for the injuries the dog may cause. The St. Louis leash law that requires dogs to be on short leashes with capable handlers exists to prevent aggressive tendencies from escalating into dog attacks.
Common Injuries Associated with Dog Bites
It’s important to seek medical attention if you’ve been bitten by a dog. This can help reduce the severity of your injury because even healthy dogs carry harmful bacteria in their mouths that could lead to infections.
Dog bite attorneys can help you recover your medical expenses if your injuries were caused by a dog attack. Victims of a St. Louis dog attack might suffer from the following injuries and illnesses:
- Lacerations/Puncture Wounds
- Tendon Damage
- Broken bones
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Head trauma
- Neck injuries
- Damage to the face, including eyes, lips, and nose
- Nerve damage
Quick medical treatment can prevent infections, excessive medical bills, and rabies. Many MO dog bite claimants experience financial setbacks when they suffer from disfiguring wounds requiring reconstructive surgery.
Experienced St. Louis personal injury lawyers might help claimants recover compensation to cover those essential procedures. If you’ve been bitten because a dog owner did not exercise reasonable care, then you have the right to seek compensation.
St. Louis Dog Bite Victims’ Financial Damages
Personal injury attorneys can handle claims for each person bitten in dog attacks. Your dog bite attorney can help you to recover general personal injury damages following dog bites, which may include direct economic damages and indirect pain and suffering damages.
Your financial recovery and settlement demands could include:
- Ambulance, emergency room, and hospital costs
- Doctors’ bills
- Cosmetic treatments and procedures
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Emotional suffering
- Household assistance
- Lost employment benefits
- Lost enjoyment of life
- Lost income
- Mental health counseling
- Physical pain
- Rehabilitation services
If an owner encourages their dog to attack, the dog has been declared dangerous by the city, or the owner acted with extreme disregard for your safety, you can demand punitive damages directly from the dog’s owner. Dedicated St. Louis dog bite lawyers help their clients recover monetary damages from insurers for surgical expenses.
How much is a dog bite lawsuit worth?
Dog bite settlements are calculated using several factors depending on the case. These factors often include the type and severity of the damages suffered and the circumstances surrounding the cause of the incident. Many dog-bite claims are paid out by the owner’s insurance.
Many dog owners and insurers try to avoid the excess costs of going to trial by negotiating a settlement. The average settlement for a dog bite claim can be between $30,000 and $50,000. Speak with a St. Louis dog bite attorney about the specifics of your claim and what your case may be worth.
Dog Bites and Pet Endangerment
Dog bites are fairly common and victims may hesitate to report dog bites because they’re afraid of St. Louis animal control. However, it’s often necessary to file police reports when unprovoked dogs terrorize people or other dogs in public spaces. Oftentimes, many dog bites are simple accidents.
St. Louis distinguishes between dangerous dogs as defined by city ordinances and dogs without vicious propensities, such as biting after provocation or fear. With experienced personal injury attorneys, you can recover civil damages without endangering the dogs.
Insurers often request evidence when dog bites occur. This means you’ll need to produce emergency room records and witness statements in the absence of police reports. Our skilled dog bite law firm helps victims advocate for additional safety precautions, including muzzling dogs outside the home and placing special warning signs on fences, during the settlement negotiation process.
If you’ve been seriously injured by a dog bite attack in St. Louis, contact Hipskind & McAninch, LLC right away. Your free legal consultation with our experienced dog bite injury attorneys is completely confidential. We’d love to discuss your dog attack cases without endangering pets.
After A Dog Bite
After being bitten or injured by a dog, you should take action to protect your health and legal rights. This is especially important if you would like to reserve the right to file a dog bite lawsuit in the future.
The following tips about what to do after a dog bite can help guide you towards actions that prevent further health complications and preserve your legal rights:
Leave the Scene of The Attack Immediately
Do not try to stick around and discuss the incident with the dog owner. Insurers can, and often do, use statements victims make after their incidents to invalidate their claims. Speak with an experienced dog bites legal professional before making any statements to dog owners or insurers.
Contact Police or Animal Control
Contacting the police or animal control as soon as possible can help protect your claim. File a report regarding the dog bite attacks with the proper authorities, whether it be with the local police, sheriffs, or animal control.
Telling the authorities the names of witnesses to the incident, as well as all identifying information about the dog, and having these names included in the incident report, could prove vital when presenting this as evidence of your claim in court.
Collect Data about the Dog Bite
After you have finished reporting the incident to the proper authorities, be sure to tell the responding officer that you would like a copy of the official incident report once it’s completed. Also, be sure you note all the names and contact information of the officers who responded to your incident.
Seek medical attention
Be sure to seek medical attention right away to get an official diagnosis from a doctor to find out if the dog’s mouth has an infection that can be transmitted to you. Also apparently mild dog bite injuries can have lingering long-term effects that require more involved medical treatments.
This one animal bite could lead to a dog bite case or dog bite injury claims. Speak with an experienced dog bite lawyer for a free consultation, if you’ve incurred medical bills because of your injuries.
Contact an Experienced St. Louis Dog Bite Lawyer
A dog bite attorney can help you recover damages from dog attacks when someone violates local leash laws or any law that restricts dogs from running amok. We also serve bite victims when the dog owner or any person acted negligently and caused an unprovoked attack.
Your experienced dog bite lawyer can provide a free consultation to discuss the dog bite attack and how to move forward. St. Louis dog bite attorneys also serve those injured by anyone who kept a dog, and knew, or should have known, that the dog displayed previous dangerous propensities.
One of the best ways to ensure that your rights and interests are fully protected in a dog bite injury case is to work with an experienced St. Louis dog bite lawyer. Victims of dog bites have rights and our lawyers are here to help those struggling with the impact of an animal attack get justice.
In addition to the physical damage that follows a dog bite, many victims, especially children, are left with severe psychological trauma after being attacked. If you’re struggling to identify all of the damages you’ve suffered, remember that our Belleville dog bite injury attorneys will have the tools you need. Finding the full value of your dog attack claim isn’t easy, but our team can help.