Dog Bite Laws in Missouri, a Strict Liability State
Work with the experienced Jefferson City Dog Bit Attorneys
If you get bit by a dog, the owner’s first reaction will probably be to deny that the dog has never attacked before. The owner will be halfway to convincing you their dog is the nicest, sweetest, most gentle four-legged creature that ever lived, even while your wound bleeds on the sidewalk. But in Missouri, dog bite laws are “strict liability,” which means the dog’s prior actions do not matter. All you need to prove is the owner of the dog and the resulting bite.
There are a few conditions that stipulate your innocence. First, you must have been bitten either on public property or while lawfully on private property. If you have been trespassing, you may not be qualified to seek damages. Second, you must not have provoked the dog. If you meet these considerations, you can seek damages.
If the dog has attacked or bitten someone before without provocation, the owner is responsible for greater damages. This is especially true if second attacks result in serious injury or death. Criminal penalties exist for keeping a dangerous dog.
If you decide the owner is responsible for your bite, keep in mind potential defenses the owner may use. Be sure that you must be prepared to show that you did not provoke the dog. If you have decided to use a negligence claim, saying that the owner’s negligence caused the injury, be aware of a potential “common negligence” defense, where the law reduces the damages by the percent it was your fault, if that can be proved.