Dogs have been ingrained in our culture as Hollywood brought the loveable Scooby Doo, Toto, and Snoopy straight from the Television screen into the hearts of millions of Americans. Besides relying on dogs as social companions, society has come to rely upon dogs to rescue people after natural disasters and to help those with disabilities. Despite how useful four legged animals can be to humans, dogs can pose a serious threat of injury or death.
How Dangerous are Dogs?
Last year alone there were 42 dog-bite related fatalities.1 Just over 80 percent of these annual deaths were caused by dog bites from highly regulated breeds such as pit-bulls, rottweilers, and other guard dogs and war dogs.2 Women and young children are the two largest groups that statistically more likely to be injured or killed due to a dog bite. Females are victims of a dog bite 81 percent of the time and children six years or younger account for 88 percent of the yearly deaths.2 Even if a dog-bite does not result in a fatality, there can be serious physical and emotional consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 4 million people in the United States are bitten by a dog each year resulting in over 800,000 injuries that require medical treatment.3 These dog bite injuries can range in severity including emotional or psychological trauma, cuts, abrasions, lacerations, infections, fractured bones, bruising, scratches, small puncture wounds, deep tissue damage, and nerve damage.4 Depending on the type of injury or damage caused as well as the circumstances surrounding the dog bite will affect the determination of liability.
How Do You Determine Liability for a Dog Bite?
In most cases a dog owner will be held liable for the injuries or property damage that their dog caused. There are several ways in which a dog owner may be held liable for injuries caused by a dog bite. For instance, Missouri is a statutory strict liability state which means that whether or not a dog has ever bit a person in the past, does not prevent an owner from being held liable if a dog, without provocation, bites a person who is on public property or is lawfully on private property.5 A person injured by a dog is also able to recover under either the liability theory of negligence or negligence per se. In order to successfully recover for dog bite injury under a negligence cause of action you must prove three elements: that there was an existence of a duty on the part of the dog owner or caretaker to protect against injury, that there was a breach of that duty, and that the breach was the proximate or direct cause of the injury.6 Determining liability is the first step towards seeking compensation for medical bills, lost income, or pain and suffering created by a dog bite injury.
Contact an Experienced St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If you have suffered a dog bite that resulted in medical bills or other expenses it is important to discuss the circumstances of the injury with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you to determine what claims should be filed and protect your legal rights and interests. To contact an auto accident attorney for a free consultation please feel free to call the The Bruning Law Firm trial attorneys at 314-735-8100.