Dog Bite Cases in Missouri
Most people don’t quite understand how a dog bite case works. Missouri is a strict liability state meaning that an owner or harborer of a dog are responsible if their dog bites or attacks someone no matter if the owner had no idea their dog would bite or previously showed no aggressive tendencies. This differs from some other states (like Kansas for example) where the owner had to be on notice that their dog showed aggressive tendencies or had bit before. The biggest issue in any dog bite case is whether there are assets or insurance to collect from against the dog owner. If the dog owner has no assets or insurance, it’s nearly impossible to collect for the victim of a dog bite. According to one report, the insurance industry pays out more than $1 billion annually for dog bite claims. It is estimated that the cost of dog bite-related medical treatment may be around $3 billion in the United States. What people most likely do not realize is that most dogs bite a person’s hands, arms, and legs.
There are several misconceptions about dog bite cases in Missouri that can lead to confusion for victims and their families. Some common misconceptions include:
The victim must prove the dog is dangerous
As noted above, in Missouri, the victim does not have to prove that the dog is dangerous. They only need to prove that the dog caused the injury and that they were not trespassing or provoking the attack.
Dog bite cases are not worth pursuing
This is not true, as dog bite cases can result in significant compensation for the victim's medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional distress. Typically, the worse the scar, the larger the settlement or jury verdict.
The victim is at fault
The victim may have done nothing to provoke the attack. Even if the victim did something that could be seen as provocative, the owner of the dog still has a responsibility to prevent the dog from biting.
Insurance will cover all the expenses
That is not always the case, as insurance policies have limits and exclusions. It is important to review the policy details and speak with an experienced dog bite attorney who can help you understand your options and navigate the claims process.
You cannot go after a family member
Depending on the circumstances, as long as you are not a resident of the home and are a relative, you still may be able to go after a family member (or more importantly, their renter’s or homeowners’ insurance policy).
It is also important for victims and their families to have accurate information about their legal rights and options to make an informed decision as to proceed attempting to get the most compensation for their injuries. The lawyers at Foster Wallace have heard numerous stories from our clients who almost took a few hundred dollars to settle a dog bite case from the dog owner before they got us involved who later settled their case for tens of thousands of dollars.