I’ve handled a large number of hit and run cases over the years. One that comes to mind is a gentleman I represented who was hit while training for a marathon. He was hit by a car while he was running and training in the morning. They never actually found the person that hit him but we were still able to make a claim on his uninsured motorist policies and get him a nice recovery.
Whenever there’s a hit and run accident, typically you can still claim it on your own insurance. In Missouri, you’re required to have uninsured motorist coverage or UM. If you own a vehicle with insurance or live in a household that has coverage for a vehicle, then you can typically claim it on the uninsured motorist portion of the policy. Under some circumstances, you can even stack several policies when you have more than one vehicle. Missouri typically does allow for the stacking of uninsured motorist policies which can have an impact on the car accident claims.
Interviewer: Do you handle cases involving factory injuries or a specific kind of work-related injuries?
Kevin Roach: I see a lot of factory injuries, but they’re under the worker’s comp category. I see a lot of factory workers who have occupational injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome or cubital tunnel syndrome. These people do repetitive work with their arms day in and day out and develop these occupational injuries.
I’ve also had a lot of truck-driving related injuries, which can potentially have claims for the motor-vehicle accident as well as workers’ comp.
The St. Louis, Missouri Area Enforces a Leash Law to Protect Individuals from Dog Attacks
Interviewer: Do you ever work with dog bite cases?
Kevin Roach: Yes. I’ve handled a fair amount of dog bite cases over the years. Usually the injuries are pretty severe and a lot of times they are strict liability because of the leash law held in St. Louis County as well as other surrounding counties. If a victim gets bit by a dog that is not on a leash, then the dog-owner is in violation of the city or the county ordinance; therefore making this strict liability or negligence per se. Those are usually pretty good cases. You can usually get a pretty good recovery for your client, if you can find home owners coverage.
Some Cases Are compensated through the Pet Owner’s Homeowner Insurance
Coverage is a lot of times the problem. You can claim it if someone has homeowner’s insurance, but a lot of times people have these dangerous animals, but they may not have any homeowner’s coverage or any other coverage that would cover someone. The hard part is searching for the coverage on these types of cases.
Interviewer: Is that a common occurrence?
Kevin Roach: It’s fairly common. Especially in the City of St. Louis, a number of people have Pit-bulls and other dogs like that in the city because it’s a higher crime area. A lot of times people will have those types of dogs as a kind of a home security, so we see them more in the city.
I see less of them in St. Louis County, but you do see a few where the animal may be running loose and knocked somebody over, or might bite a child or jogger. I see a fair amount of those types of cases.
Interviewer: How severe are the injuries from dog bites?
Kevin Roach: It really depends. Most times the injuries are on the legs or lower extremities. I did have a gentleman I represented that was actually bit in the face by a Rottweiler. It severely disfigured his face. He was at a friend’s house where they were having a small gathering. He was just leaning down and petting the dog, in an unprovoked manner, and the dog just bit into his face. In that case, we were able to make a claim on the homeowner’s policy and get a nice recovery for my client.
In Missouri, the Property Owner Is Liable for Damages Sustained in Dog Attacks
Interviewer: In that situation, who’s liable in that case? I mean, could the owner of the animal face criminal charges?
Kevin Roach: Typically they don’t face criminal charges, but in Missouri the property owner is liable.
If the dog is found to have what they consider vicious propensities, basically if it had bitten before, then the liability is substantially clearer. A lot of times, what happens is that you can prove that the dog bit someone previously and the owner had knowledge of the behavior.
Typically, the owner tries to cover it up because they know that once they’re on what is called “the bad dog list”, they’re tagged by Animal Control. If the dog bites anyone a second time, then they have to euphonize the animal.