Dog bites can lead to severe physical injuries and emotional trauma. Knowing how to properly handle such situations can be vital to obtaining the compensation you deserve. This guide provides a step-by-step approach to dealing with dog bite cases under Missouri law.
Immediate Actions After a Dog Bite
1. Seek Medical Attention: The primary concern after a dog bite should be your health. Obtain immediate medical care, even if the wound seems minor, as dog bites can lead to infections.
2. Report the Incident: Notify your local animal control or law enforcement about the incident. They will document the details, which can serve as crucial evidence if you pursue a legal claim.
3. Identify the Dog and the Owner: Gather information about the dog and its owner, including contact details and any known history of aggressive behavior.
4. Document the Incident: Take photos of your injuries, the location of the attack, and the dog if possible. Keep a record of all medical treatments and expenses.
Understanding Missouri Dog Bite Law
Missouri follows the "strict liability" rule in dog bite cases. Under this rule, dog owners are liable for any injuries their dogs cause, even if the dog has never shown any signs of aggression before. It applies whether the dog bite occurred on public property or legally on private property.
Exceptions exist if you were trespassing, committing a crime, or provoked the dog. In such cases, the strict liability rule may not apply, and proving the owner's negligence might become necessary.
Pursuing a Dog Bite Claim in Missouri
1. Consult a Missouri Dog Bite Attorney: Dog bite laws can be complex. An experienced attorney can help navigate these complexities and ensure your rights are protected.
2. File a Claim: Your attorney will help you file a claim against the dog owner's homeowner's insurance policy. This claim will detail your injuries and the compensation you're seeking.
3. Negotiate a Settlement: Insurance companies often offer lower settlements initially. Your attorney will negotiate on your behalf to seek a fair settlement that covers your medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and any other damages.
4. Litigate if Necessary: If a fair settlement isn't reached, your attorney may recommend filing a lawsuit and taking the case to court.
In conclusion, the aftermath of a dog bite can be a stressful and painful experience. Understanding Missouri dog bite laws and obtaining legal counsel can help ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.