Millions of people in the United States are bitten by dogs each year. About half of all dog bites are inflicted upon children. About 20% of all dog bite victims require some kind of medical attention as a result of their injury. This could include everything from a tetanus shot to reconstructive plastic surgery.
Much depends on the breed and size of dog and the victim’s ability to defend themselves. Because children are smaller and less apt to protect themselves in a dog attack, the most significant and costly injuries from a dog bite are often inflicted upon children. Whether you are the victim of a dog attack or the owner of a dog that bit someone, there can be physical, emotional, and legal consequences from a dog bite case. Top Kansas City dog bite attorneys discuss below.
What Do I Need to Know About Dog Bites?
Despite much perception that certain breeds of dogs are more threatening than others, external influences ultimately will decide whether an animal is aggressive. A dog may bite someone for many reasons, including improper training, stressful human interaction, or because the dog feels threatened by another environmental factor.
One thing a dog owner can do to prevent its animal from biting others includes training it to lessen aggressive behaviors or tendencies. The owner can also actively supervise the dog and keep it on a leash when occupying public areas that are not fenced-in.
Whether a dog is familiar to you or not, you should always act appropriately with any animals to avoid any tendency they may have to be aggressive or bite. You should avoid petting any dog that is alone and that you are not familiar with. Also, you should avoid dogs that are:
- Tending to their pups
Approaching a dog involved in these behaviors could increase the chance for an aggressive reaction if the dog is startled, does not want to be disturbed, or feels threatened.
If you are a victim to a dog bite or your dog has bitten someone, you may soon face extensive and complex legal proceedings. It is important to understand the applicable law in Missouri and your options as a party in these types of cases.
What is the Law Concerning Dog Bites in Missouri?
Missouri law governing dog bites provides that when a dog bites someone, its owner is liable for the resulting injuries if:
- The injured person did not provoke the dog
- The injured person was on public property or lawfully on private property, including the dog-owner’s property, and
- The dog bite caused the injury
Under these circumstances, the owner of the dog that bites someone is “strictly liable” for the resulting damages. Strict liability means that the owner is responsible for any resulting injuries, even if the owner tried to restrain the dog or attempted to prevent the attack from occurring. Also, dog bites that occur under these circumstances will subject the owner to liability regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of the dog’s aggressiveness.
The law in Missouri is that an owner held liable for a dog bite may pay a fine of up to $1,000, in addition to paying for any other damages from their dog’s attack. However, in Missouri, an action to recover for injuries from a dog bite must be filed within five years of the incident.
What Kind of Damages Can Be Recovered in a Dog Bite Case?
When a dog bites someone, the resulting injuries can range in severity. The most common injuries associated with dog bites are:
- Open cuts or lacerations
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Permanent scarring
- Emotional trauma
Financial recovery in a dog bite case should include all expenses incurred as a result of these injuries. Depending on the injuries, expenses may total hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. Some expenses that the injured person may be compensated for in a lawsuit include:
- Medical Bills. This covers all costs related to medical treatment, which may include hospital bills, medical procedures, and medication.
- Rehabilitation Expenses. If the injured person has to go to physical therapy as a result of the dog bite, they could be compensated for that treatment.
- Loss of Income. Injuries from a dog bite could prevent the victim from working for an extended period of time. The victim may be compensated for their lost income during this time.
- Pain and Suffering. In addition to the pain resulting from the physical injuries, being attacked by a dog can be traumatic and can lead to the injured person suffering emotional distress and constant fear.
- Property Damage. The victim may recover the cost of anything damaged or broken during the attack, such as a phone, bike, or jewelry.
What Are the Legal Options in a Dog Bite Case?
It is important to seek immediate legal assistance if you are the victim of a dog bite or the owner of a dog that attacks someone. At Foster Wallace, LLC, we are familiar with the complex legal process involved in dog bite cases and will help you determine your best options.
It is important to collect as much information as you can about the incident. This includes any medical documents, police reports, animal control records, witnesses’ names and addresses, and letters from the insurance company. This information will help us to build a strong case for you to be financially compensated for your injuries.
There is a good possibility that we will be able to settle your claim instead of going to trial. Any information you collect will help us to be fully informed about your case and have the most leverage to negotiate for the highest settlement.
What is the Average Settlement for a Dog Bite Case?
Dog bite settlements are calculated using a number of factors depending on the case, including the type and severity of the damages suffered and the circumstances surrounding the cause of the incident. Many dog-bite claims for which liability rests on the dog’s owner are paid out by the owner’s insurance.
Considering these factors and the amount of damage suffered by the injured person, the dog owner will try to avoid going to trial by negotiating a settlement. Settlements allow for adequate compensation to the injured party while both parties avoid expensive legal fees that come with going to trial. The average settlement for a dog bite claim is between $30,000 and $40,000.
Have You Experienced a Personal Injury in Kansas City?
If you've experienced a Kansas City personal injury, you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.249.2101 to schedule your free consultation.