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Can I Sue If A Stray Dog Bites Me?

By Gene Hou

June 3, 2024

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    Filing a dog bite lawsuit in Missouri is usually an important process after someone has been bit by a dog. It can help them recover medical or property damages and help hold the owner of the dog that bit them accountable. But what if the dog that bit you had no owner?


    Understanding Ownership and Liability


    Dogs are considered the personal property of their owners under the law. This is why when you make an insurance claim after being bit by a dog, it is classified under their homeowners’ or renters’ policy. As such, dog owners are held strictly liable for how their dog behaves as per Missouri Revised Statute 273.036. But with a stray dog, since there is no owner on record, it becomes much harder to prove liability after a dog bite.


    Who Is Responsible For Stray Dogs?


    Even though they do not have an owner that can easily be held liable, it is still possible to recover damages after being bit by a stray dog. You should investigate the following things if you get bit by a stray dog in Missouri:


    Was this dog previously reported as dangerous?


    Cities are responsible for making sure dangerous animals are not running freely around town. It’s possible someone had already reported this animal as being dangerous and the city or county you were in did not take this dog into custody, or you were bitten by a stray dog on public property. It could also be that the dog was previously picked up by animal control but somehow managed to escape back into the wild. Under any of these circumstances, the local area may be liable for your attack and resulting injuries, as they did not maintain a safe premises.


    Were you on private property?


    If a property owner knew that there was a stray dog on their premises and did not at least warn others of potential danger, they can be deemed negligent and thus liable for a lawsuit. Make sure you had the right to be on this property, though: Missouri law deems property or dog owners not liable if someone was bit by a dog while unlawfully trespassing on private property.


    Could authorities find the dog’s owner? 


    It’s entirely possible that during an investigation it is determined that the stray dog that bit you is actually not a stray at all, but rather a dog either willfully abandoned by its owner or allowed to run free. Now not only can we prove liability much easier, but also the dog owner could be subject to additional criminal charges, as animal abandonment is a Class C misdemeanor in Missouri.


    Familiarize Yourself With Local Laws & Regulations 


    Understanding the legal implications of stray dog bites is crucial for pet owners and individuals alike. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations that govern liability in cases where a person is bitten by a stray dog. In the unfortunate event that you or someone you know falls victim to a stray dog bite, it’s important to know what steps you can take legally. 


    Depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, this will largely depend on whether the owner of the dog can be identified or held responsible. If you find yourself in a situation where you have been bitten by a stray dog and are considering taking legal action, it’s advisable to consult with a lawyer who specializes in personal injury cases involving animal attacks. They will be able to advise you on your rights and help determine if filing a lawsuit against the owner is appropriate. Remember, each state has its own set of laws regarding liability for dog bites, so it’s crucial to understand how these laws apply in your specific case before proceeding with any legal action. By being informed about your rights and responsibilities as both an individual who has been bitten by a stray dog or as an owner whose pet has caused harm, you can navigate through potential legal challenges more effectively.


    Seek Medical Attention Immediately


    If you find yourself bitten by a stray dog, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention. This step is essential for your well-being and safety in case of any injuries caused by the bite. Remember that if you are bitten by a dog, whether it’s a stray or not, there may be legal implications involved. In such circumstances, the owner of the dog could be held liable for any damages or losses incurred as a result of the attack. 


    It’s important to know your rights and what steps you can take if you decide to file a lawsuit against the owner for compensation. Seeking legal advice from a lawyer who specializes in personal injury cases involving animal attacks can help guide you through the process. They will advise on how to proceed with your claim and what compensation you may be entitled to under the law. Remember that every case is unique, so it’s crucial to consider all aspects before taking any action legally. Your health and well-being should always come first when dealing with such situations involving dog bites.


    Contact Animal Control


    Reaching out to animal control or local authorities can be a crucial step in identifying the owner of the stray dog. This action is essential if you have been bitten by a dog and are seeking compensation for your injuries. By contacting the appropriate authorities, you can determine who is responsible for the attack and take legal action against them. In cases where a person has been bitten by a stray dog, it may not always be clear who the owner is. However, with the help of animal control or local authorities, you can gather information that will assist in determining liability for the incident. 


    This process is vital in building a strong case to sue for damages caused by the bite. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to act swiftly and follow all necessary steps to hold those responsible accountable. Remember that under strict liability laws, owners can be held legally liable for any damages their pet causes. Therefore, taking prompt action and seeking legal advice from an experienced lawyer will ensure that you receive proper compensation for your losses. By understanding your rights and knowing how to navigate through these circumstances, you can protect yourself and seek justice after being bitten by a stray dog. Contacting animal control or local authorities is just one of many important steps on this journey towards receiving fair compensation for your injuries.


    Finding A Missouri Dog Bite Injury Attorney Is Important


    If you’ve been bit by a stray dog in Missouri, a dog bite injury lawyer is a crucial assistant as you look for justice in your case. A top St. Louis dog bite attorney can help investigate all the facets of your case, deal with the insurance companies, and ensure you get every penny you are entitled to receive.


    The Missouri Injury Law Firm has years of experience dealing with dog bite lawsuits and is ready to fight for you today. Contact them online or give attorney Gene Hou a call at (636) 333-1717 for a free consultation about your dog bite lawsuit.


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    Gene Hou

    Gene S. Hou is an experienced and accomplished trial lawyer specializing in Personal Injury Litigation. Mr. Hou has devoted his entire legal career to handling injury cases, both for the prosecution and the defense. Having won numerous jury trials, Mr. Hou feels comfortable and confident when representing his clients in the courtroom.

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