When dog owners and handlers fail to control their animals properly, innocent people can suffer devastating harm. Emergency rooms treat millions of dog bites annually, and even minor bites can cause severe pain, inconvenience, and emotional trauma.
A Maryland Heights dog bite lawyer could help you seek compensation for your injuries and other losses you suffered because of a negligent pet owner. A dedicated injury attorney could handle negotiations with the dog owner’s insurer and bring a personal injury lawsuit if attempts to reach a fair settlement fail.
A dog bite is not a minor incident. Even a bite that does not break the skin can cause swelling and bruising. If the bite is on a hand it could impact the injured person’s functioning for days while bites to the lower extremities might affect someone’s ability to walk.
When canine bites are severe enough to break the skin, the most common complication is infection. Large wounds could require stitches and even skin grafts. Children often suffer facial wounds from dog bites, and these could leave permanent scars and, in many cases, the psychological impact of a dog attack could be more enduring than the physical injuries.
An empathetic attorney could help an injured person and their family assess all the ways the dog attack affected them. The details of the bite’s impact could be evidence that supports a demand for money damages from the dog’s owner.
An injured person could seek damages to cover all of their expenses relating to the dog bite, including any co-payments and uncovered medical services. Miscellaneous expenses incurred while securing medical care, like parking or transportation costs, could be included in a claim. Lost wages are recoverable if the injured person missed work, and expenses like tutoring could be included in a damages claim if a child had to miss significant school while recovering from a dog attack.
Plaintiffs could also seek compensation for the pain and suffering they experienced due to the dog bite. If the bite resulted in scarring, a claimant could be entitled to damages for disfigurement and any related embarrassment or humiliation. Although it is difficult to assign a monetary value to these intangibles, a well-practiced lawyer in the area could evaluate how a person’s quality of life was diminished because of the dog bite and ask a jury to award a sum to compensate for these subjective losses.
Some states do not make a dog’s owner responsible for its bite unless the owner had reason to know the animal was aggressive. This is often called the free bite rule because there is no liability for the dog’s first bite. In contrast, Missouri Revised Statute §273.036 makes a dog owner liable whether or not they knew the dog might be dangerous.
An owner or handler is strictly liable if the dog attacked someone on public or private property, including the dog owner’s property, as long as the person who was bitten was not trespassing. However, the owner might not be liable if the canine bit in response to provocation.
If the injured person’s actions contributed to the attack or the severity of their injury, they might not be entitled to recover all of their damages. Missouri law holds people responsible for their part in an incident that leads to injury. An injured person could still collect damages from a dog owner, but a court will reduce the amount they could receive to reflect their partial responsibility.
Pet owners and their insurers might defend a dog bite claim by asserting that the dog was provoked, or the injured person brought the attack on themselves through their own negligence. However, if you were wrongfully harmed by an aggressive canine, you deserve full compensation for the economic and non-economic losses you suffered as a result.
An accomplished Maryland Heights dog bite lawyer could fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Schedule a case review today.