Dog Bite Lawyers in Kansas City, MO, Holding Negligent Pet Owners Accountable
Missouri is in the top five states when it comes to rates of dog ownership. The Show-Me State loves to show off its canine companions, and these pets offer unconditional love to those who care for them. Unfortunately, not all dogs are kind to everyone they meet. A dog bite victim can suffer significant injuries that leave them unable to work, disfigured, terrified of animals, and even incapable of enjoying the things they love. If you or a loved one was attacked by another person’s pet, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages suffered. A dog bite lawyer in Kansas City, MO, can help you seek justice.
At Mohlman Gurney Injury Law, we fight to help our clients recover compensation for their injuries. When someone’s dog harms another individual, Missouri law is supposed to hold them accountable. Unfortunately, dog owners will frequently claim that injury victims are at fault for the attack that harmed them. This is why it’s so important to have Kansas City personal injury lawyers on your side. If you or a loved one were injured in a dog attack, Mohlman Gurney Injury Law offers free consultations so you can better understand your rights. Contact us today, and we’ll help you decide how to move forward.
When is a Dog Owner Liable?
Dog bite laws can vary significantly by state. This is true of any statute. Several states practice what is known as the “one-bite rule.” This rule led to the offhand term, “The first bite is free.” That’s because a dog owner will only be considered negligent if they should’ve known their pet had aggressive tendencies. This is typically proven by showing that the dog has bitten someone in the past. Fortunately, for every dog bite victim in Missouri, our state doesn’t follow this rule. We live in a “strict liability” state, and this means the owner can be held liable even if they had no idea that their pet may be capable of aggressive behavior.
For a dog owner to be held legally responsible for a bite, however, there are three requirements that must be met. These include:
- An injury was caused by a dog bite from their pet
- Any injury victims were on public property or lawfully on private property
- Provocation from bite victims did not precede the attack
As long as these elements are satisfied, you likely have a solid Kansas City dog bite claim on your hands. It’s also worth noting that strict liability rules mean that it’s not necessary to show negligence on the part of dog owners. As long as a dog bite occurred, it doesn’t matter if the owner took specific actions to prevent such an attack from happening. They may have made every effort to restrain their dog to ensure an animal bite did not occur. Even in such a situation, Missouri courts will still likely see them as the responsible party and require them to pay financial compensation.
What About Attacks Without Dog Bites?
If a dog bite results in injuries, Missouri law is very clear on liability. Our state’s statutes even dictate that a $1,000 fine may be given to the owner in addition to the damages they have to pay the victim. However, what happens when the injuries caused were not related to a bite? What if someone’s dog decides to jump up on you out of excitement—and you end up breaking a bone by falling over? You’ll still face many of the same issues experienced by dog bite victims, but Missouri’s dog bite statutes will not apply. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to compensation.
If you’ve suffered a non-bite dog injury, there is no strict liability in our state. You can still file a negligence lawsuit, though, to seek restitution for your injuries and financial losses. This will turn your case into a typical personal injury claim. You’ll need to show that the dog owner failed to practice reasonable care and that your injury was a direct result of this failure. Regardless of how you were injured by a dog, you should reach out to a Kansas City personal injury attorney to better understand your rights. No one should have to deal with the consequences of an animal attack on their own, and with a dedicated law firm on your side, you won’t have to.
What Should I do After a Dog Bite Injury?
What you do in the moments immediately following an animal attack can dictate what happens later. As a victim, you have the right to seek compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering damages, lost wages, emotional trauma, and any other injuries resulting from dog attacks. In order to build a strong case, however, you’ll need to take certain steps after your injury. These steps will ensure you have all the necessary information and evidence required to get a fair settlement or file a successful dog bite case in Kansas City:
- Get owner information: If you’re unacquainted with a dog’s owner, it’s vital that you get their information. Treat this the same as you would if you were in a vehicular collision. You’ll need this information to file a lawsuit, and it’s also useful for contacting the owner to learn more about their animal’s vaccination status.
- Contact animal control: Filing a report with local animal control serves a variety of purposes. First, it documents the fact that a dog bite occurred. It also allows authorities to conduct an appropriate investigation, and this investigation can reduce the likelihood of future attacks by the canine.
- Get witness information: You’ll want to get the information of anyone who witnessed the attack. Dog bites can lead to significant consequences for owners, so they might lie about what happened. It’s wise to have witness testimony supporting your side of the story.
- Seek medical care: You should seek medical care immediately following a dog bite injury. This is particularly true for significant injuries or puncture wounds, but even seemingly minor damage can lead to major harm. It’s better to be safe than sorry with dog bites.
Take each of these steps regardless of whether it seems like the owner knew their dog could be violent. Remember, you are in a strict liability state for dog bites. Of course, there may be instances where following each of these steps isn’t possible. Some attacks are so vicious that there’s no time to do anything other than seek medical care. If that’s the case, do not hesitate to go to the emergency room. However, remember that you still have rights even if you are unable to get any additional information or file a report. A Kansas City dog bite attorney may be able to help.
What if I’m Partially at Fault for My Dog Bite Injury?
As long as you weren’t trespassing and did not provoke a dog bite attack, Missouri law says that you should be able to recover compensation. Of course, there may be instances where you feel as if you contributed to your own injury. State laws place liability for dog bite claims on the owner, but it’s possible that victims could contribute to an attack. Even if you think this is the case, however, you should still speak with a personal injury attorney. Missouri dog bite laws are complex, and even if you contributed to an attack in some way, you may still be entitled to damages.
That’s because Missouri is a “comparative negligence state.” This means courts will compare the negligence of parties when granting any court award. For instance, a jury may decide that a dog bite victim was 10% at fault for their own injury. If this is the case, their compensation could be reduced by that percentage. This means victims of dog bites may only get $900,000 of a $1 million court award. This is obviously still significant, so if you’ve suffered a dog bite in Kansas City, you shouldn’t hesitate to speak with an attorney.
If you go to court against a dog’s owner, there’s a very good chance they’ll cite comparative negligence rules in their defense. Due to the strict nature of laws regarding dog bite cases in Missouri, this is the owner’s best chance of avoiding accountability. If you speak with the pet owner’s insurance company after an attack—which you should never do without first seeking legal advice—they’ll likely try to guide you into admitting some level of fault. Thanks to state law regarding dog bites and personal injury claims, however, even this may not bar you from getting compensation.
Contact a Dog Bite Lawyer in Kansas City, MO Today
Over 4.5 million people suffer dog bite injuries every year in America. While canines are believed to be man’s best friend, the negligence of a dog owner can easily lead to significant damage. When this happens, dog bite victims may be confused about what they should do next. More importantly, they may be confused over whether Missouri dog bite laws will even allow them to recover compensation. If you or a loved one finds yourselves in such a situation, seeking the help of personal injury lawyers may be in your best interest. You deserve fair compensation for the injuries you’ve suffered, and with the right legal representation, this becomes a far simpler task.
At Mohlman Gurney Injury Law, we’ve served the Kansas City area since 2005. Our clients always come first, and that’s why we offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis. This means all our efforts will focus on helping you get the best outcome possible if you’ve suffered injuries from animal bites. Contact us today by calling (816) 648-6000 to schedule your free initial case evaluation. We’ll help you better understand your rights and how you should move forward. With a dog bite lawyer in Kansas City, MO, on your side, you’ll have an advocate working tirelessly to help you get justice.