Tips for Protecting Your Rights in Missouri After a Dog Bite

Serious physical and psychological injuries can arise from dog bites. Approximately 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year, according to Forbes. Some of these bites result in emergency department visits, and a few of them even lead to fatalities. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found, there were 468 dog bite-related deaths from 2011 to 2021.

In Missouri, like in many other states, laws exist to protect individuals who have been bitten by dogs. Nevertheless, navigating the legal system following such an incident can be difficult and overwhelming. Knowing your rights and how to defend them is essential to ensure you get compensated fairly for your injuries.

This article will explore tips for protecting your rights in Missouri after a dog bite.

Missouri Dog Bite Laws

Dog owners in Missouri (MO) are solely responsible for any harm their animals cause. This implies that regardless of whether the owners knew about the damages, they could still be held accountable for them. This rule does, however, have some exceptions, such as in cases where the victim was trespassing or provoking the dog. Prior to the strict liability, MO followed the one-bite rule until 2009. This rule allowed one free bite before the owner could be liable for damages.

Other regulations are in place, too. As FindLaw states, every dog over six months should be licensed and registered under state law. Moreover, owners must keep their pets on a leash when outside.

The government of MO also implements some breed-specific policies. These policies prevent the citizens from owning certain breeds. However, an NCBI study concluded that this had not reduced the rates of dog bite injuries.

How to Guard Your Legal Rights Following a Dog Bite

You must act to protect your legal rights in the event that a dog bites you. What you can do is as follows:

Seek Medical Attention

The first and most important thing to do after a dog bite is to get medical help immediately. To ensure proper treatment, it is imperative to have the wound evaluated by a medical professional, even if it seems minor. Medical records of your injuries will also be essential for any subsequent legal actions or insurance claims.

Many dog bites also result in emergency department visits. A recent NCBI study analyzed data from 2010 to 2015 to determine the rate of emergency room admissions for dog bites in Missouri. It found there were 101 visits per 100,000 population during that period, which was lower than the national average of 112.

Report the Incident

It’s critical to report the dog bite incident to the appropriate authorities as soon as you receive medical attention. You typically need to contact your local law enforcement or animal control agency to file a report. Detailed information about the incident will help document the event and establish a record of what occurred.

After reporting the incident, you should also hire a lawyer if you have been injured and require medical attention. According to TorHoerman Law, a lawyer can assist you in pursuing just compensation for your injuries, lost income, and other losses. The lawyer can also handle insurance negotiations on your behalf.

However, hiring local attorneys for your case is crucial, as they have the right education about region-specific laws. So, suppose a canine pet has bitten you in St. Louis. In that case, hiring St. Louis personal injury lawyers will be the right choice.

Document Your Damages

Make thorough records of all the losses you sustain as a result of the dog bite, such as hospital bills, missed income, and emotional distress. Keep track of all the receipts, bills, and other records pertaining to your medical care and recuperation. Calculating the entire amount of your damages and negotiating a just settlement will require this information.

Gather Evidence

After a dog bite, gathering evidence is essential to establishing a compelling case and defending your legal rights. If possible, take pictures of the incident scene, your injuries, and the offending dog. Additionally, gathering witness statements and obtaining relevant medical records or bills will further support your compensation claim.

Anything found during a police investigation can also be used as evidence in court. For instance, KOAM News Now covers a news story of a child bitten by a dog in southwest Missouri. According to the article, the accident happened on private property, and the child sustained multiple injuries.

Preliminary investigations suggest that the child was a guest at the residence. This could be used as evidence to eliminate the possibility of trespassing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What If The Dog Owner Claims the Dog Has Never Shown Aggression Before?

In Missouri, regardless of the dog’s prior behavior, owners are usually responsible for any injuries caused by their pets. However, the case outcome may change if the owner can demonstrate that the victim trespassed or provoked the dog.

Even If the Dog Bite Was Only Mild, Can I File a Damages Claim?

You have the right to pursue compensation for any losses you incur due to a dog bite, regardless of the seriousness of the injury. Factors such as pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical costs may all be considered in a personal injury claim.

What if the Dog Was Off-Leash or Roaming Without Supervision?

Dog owners must guarantee that their animals are under constant control. If a dog was off-leash or roaming unsupervised and caused injury to another person, the owner could be held liable.

If the Incident Occurred on Private Property, Can I File a Claim?

If the dog bite occurred on private property and you were not there unlawfully, you may still make a claim. Property owners are responsible for protecting guests from dangerous animals.

In conclusion, getting bitten by a dog can be a terrible experience, but it’s important to understand your legal rights. You can confidently navigate the legal system and make sure your rights are upheld by following the above advice. If you’ve been bitten by a dog in Missouri, don’t hesitate to take action to protect yourself and your legal interests.

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