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What are your rights if a dog becomes violent and bites you?

A dog that you know and trust can be a great source of joy and comfort in your life, but a dog you don’t know could inflict substantial physical and emotional harm. People experience dog bite attacks in many different environments, from their own front lawn when an animal runs loose to a friend’s living room or a public park.

A dog bite may be minor, but it can also cause serious medical and psychological issues. Dogs of all breeds and sizes are capable of causing severe, debilitating, disfiguring and even fatal injuries to humans in a dog bite attack. Even a tiny breed, like a chihuahua, could cause severe injuries if given an opportunity to bite someone on the face or when the victim is a child. Larger breeds of dogs could cause severe injuries even to full-grown adults.

As the victim or parent/guardian of a victim of a dog bite attack in Missouri, you have certain rights under state law. Those rights include the right to hold the owner of the animal responsible for the damages the dog caused.

Missouri has strict liability statutes for the owners of vicious animals

When you keep an animal, you assume responsibility for that animal’s behavior and the risk it poses to the public under Missouri law. If a dog bites a person or attacks another animal without provocation, that dog is a vicious animal and a danger to the public.

The owner of any dog has a responsibility to keep the dog properly restrained, to maintain fencing if the dog is allowed outside off of a leash and to provide training to the animal if it will be in close proximity to other humans or animals. Failure to properly train and secure a dog can result in financial liability if the dog hurts someone.

The owner could wind up liable for medical costs, as well as any property damage, such as the cost of broken mobile phones for damaged designer clothing. The only exception to that liability is when someone provokes the dog through abuse or gets attacked while breaking the law, potentially by breaking into someone’s home or trespassing.

Where does dog bite compensation come from?

Many people hesitate to seek compensation after a dog bite attack, particularly if they know the owner of the animal. In many cases, the person injured in a dog bite attack can file a claim against a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy.

However, if the owner did not have insurance, if the policy has breed restrictions that don’t cover the animal or if the insurance coverage does not fully cover all the financial losses associated with the bite, civil action through a personal injury lawsuit may become necessary to recoup the expenses that result from a vicious animal attacking a person.

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