Dog Bite Injury Lawyer
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Dog Bite Injury Lawyer Webster Groves, MO. Dogs are treasured members of the family and near-and-dear companions, quite often the best of friends when times are tough. However, every once in a while, man's best friend is not friendly at all, and the natural animal instincts of dogs take over. If that ever happens to you or someone you know, a top Webster Groves, MO dog bite injury lawyer can be your best friend.
Attorney Gene Hou at the Missouri Injury Law Firm is a veteran Webster Groves, MO personal injury lawyer who puts his clients first in all that he does. He has a proven record of representing his dog bite injury clients in Webster Groves, MO, with compassion as well as resolve. If you have been recently bit by a dog in Webster Groves, MO, sustained injuries, and are seeking to recover damages against that dog's owner, call us at 636-333-1717, or fill out our online contact form.
Almost one half of all dog bites involve an animal owned by the victim’s family or neighbors. If you are the victim of a dog bite, you need to hire a dog bite injury lawyer near Webster Groves, MO, to represent your case. Dog bite injuries can be expensive and often cause physical, mental, and emotional harm. An experienced dog bite injury lawyer from Missouri Injury Law Firm near you in Webster Groves, MO, can help you gather evidence of the attack, file reports of the animal’s dangerous behavior, and bring a claim against the dog’s owner to recover compensation for your injuries and financial damages in Webster Groves, MO.
What Should I Do After I've Been Bit By A Dog in Webster Groves, MO?
The dog bite injury lawyer team at Missouri Injury knows the impact a dog bite can have on your life in Webster Groves, MO. Even a bite that results in a minor physical wound can have a lasting emotional impact. If you have recently been bit by a dog in Webster Groves, MO, you're probably in a state of trauma and uncertain about what to do next, just like if you were in any other kind of accident. And just like any other accident, there's a number of steps you should immediately take after it happens. Our Webster Groves, MO dog bite lawyer suggests you do the following if you sustained a dog bite injury in Webster Groves, MO:
- Take pictures. It probably won’t be the first thing on your mind, but immediately after the bite is the only time to obtain evidence that reflects the severity of the wound in Webster Groves, MO. Your dog bite injury lawyer from Missouri Injury will need pictures to help validate your injury. Get out your camera or phone and start taking shots of everything around you. If you can, take pictures of the dog that bit you. Even if the animal is running away from you and you can only get poor-quality photos, local authorities can still use these shots to identify a dog. You should also take pictures of your immediate surroundings like street signs, cars parked nearby, and addresses — animal control in Webster Groves, MO needs to warn people living nearby about the danger of a dog on the loose.
- Call 911. Animal Control in or near Webster Groves will need to be contacted to begin their tasks after a dog has bit you. In addition, you should talk to to the Webster Groves police. Not only should you ask for a report for your insurance records, but the police and other Webster Groves, MO authorities also keep info on dogs who have bit other people before. If it turns out that you are not the first person that dog has bit, their owner may be facing criminal charges.
- Get the dog owner’s information. Get all the info you can. Request that the owner provide info about the dog's veterinarian, tag, and their personal insurance. This is also a great time to seek out any witnesses, if applicable. One or even two witnesses to the bite can help your dog bite injury lawyer and make a difference in your claim.
- Get medical help. No matter the severity of your injuries, we suggest calling a Webster Groves, MO doctor or visiting a nearby emergency room or urgent care center without delay. Dog bites can easily lead to infection, so speedy treatment is important. The only circumstance you should skip immediate medical treatment is if you know the dog’s owner and they provide validation of vaccinations being up-to-date. Do not rely on verbal proof because people routinely forget the last time they’ve gotten their pets immunized. Also, and contrary to popular belief, the rabies virus is still a legit problem in Webster Groves, MO.
- Call your insurance company. Dog bites are usually covered as part of a homeowners' or renters’ insurance policy, as they are considered "personal property" in Webster Groves, MO. Call them as soon as you can to file a claim so they can assist you with medical bills and other costs.
- Contact the Missouri Injury Law Firm near Webster Groves, MO. Our skilled and experienced dog bite injury lawyer will be able to handle all of your concerns and questions. Call us at 636-333-1717, or reach out to us.
Dog Bite Laws In Missouri and Illinois
You may be entitled to compensation under the Missouri dog bite statute, R.S.Mo. § 273.036 if you suffered injury due to a dog bite.
R.S.Mo. § 273.036 provides that the “owner or possessor of any dog that bites, without provocation, any person while such person is on public property, or lawfully on private property, including the property of the owner or possessor of the dog, is strictly liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s or possessor’s knowledge of such viciousness. Owners and possessors of the dogs shall also be strictly liable for any damage to property or livestock proximately caused by their dogs. If it is determined that the party had fault in the incident, any damages owed by the owner or possessor of the biting dog shall be reduced by the same percentage that the damaged party’s fault contributed to the incident. The provisions of this section shall not apply to dogs killing or maiming sheep or other domestic animals under section 273.020.”
To prove that a dog owner is liable under the statute, you must show:
- A dog bite and resulting injury
- The injured person did not provoke the dog
- The injured person had a lawful right to be in the place where the dog bite occurred
This is a strict liability statute, meaning the dog owner or possessor is responsible regardless of whether he or she took reasonable care to prevent the dog bite, such as constraining the dog, or didn’t know the dog could be dangerous. The statute also imposes a $1,000 fine to a dog owner held liable for a dog bite, as well as any other damages your dog bite injury lawyer can prove.
After being injured from a dog bite, you are entitled to compensation for medical expenses, including lost income if unable to work, pain and suffering, and property damage. Common legal defenses to responsibility under the Missouri dog bite statute include provocation and trespassing. If the dog owner can prove you provoked the dog, such as by petting or startling the dog, then you may not be successful in the claim. Similarly, you may not recover under the statute if the dog owner can prove you were trespassing on private property at the time of the bite.
The Illinois law regarding dog bites is called the Animal Control Act or Illinois statute 510 ILCS 5/16. It is much more extensive than Missouri's dog bite law as it also includes sections about what happens to dogs after they bite another human, which in Missouri is reserved for county or city-level governments.
The statute states, “If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby.”
To prove that a dog owner is legally responsible under this statute, your dog bite injury lawyer must show:
- A dog attacked or injured the person
- The person had a lawful right to be in the place where they were attacked
- The person did not provoke the dog
- The person was acting peaceably
Like Missouri, Illinois has a strict liability statute, meaning the dog owner is legally liable for a dog attack regardless of whether the dog acted viciously in the past or attacked someone on a previous occasion. Note, however that the Illinois statute encompasses all injuries caused by a dog, not simply bites. So, as an example, if a dog jumps up and knocks you down, the dog owner is still liable for your injuries under the statute.
What Happens To A Dog That Bit Someone in Webster Groves, MO?
Both Missouri and Illinois have mostly matching procedures they follow after a dog bites a human being. The sole difference is that Illinois' dog bite mandates are part of the state Animal Control Act, while Missouri's procedures are set by each county or city. While this allows for some variation in other matters relating to dogs (for example, some cities in Missouri explicitly prohibit certain dog breeds like pit bulls), for the most part the protocol following a dog bite is identical.
After the report of a dog bite, Webster Groves, MO animal control will impound the dog for 10 days. The dog will be taken to a central location such as an animal shelter or a veterinarian's office near Webster Groves, MO. The dog will then be watched for that time and inspected for illnesses, most notably rabies. Before the dog is permitted to leave the facility, a tracking microchip is implanted in the dog, and if their owner has not done so already the pet is spayed or neutered. If Webster Groves, MO animal control has deemed the dog to be safe, it can be released back into the care of their owner, but not before they cover for all costs related to the care and feeding of the dog during its time under observation.
After a dog is returned to the custody of its owner in Webster Groves, MO, it is also enrolled into a statewide database of "dangerous" (in Missouri) or "vicious" (in Illinois) dogs. Webster Groves, MO owners of dogs entered in these categories must keep them in secure pens or kennels, and when out in public they are required to keep them on a short leash and muzzled. If a dangerous or vicious dog bites another person once again, they are once again placed under observation. However, this time the Webster Groves, MO owners must file an appeal and show that they can maintain safe custody of their pet. Otherwise, it will be euthanized.
How Much Can I Get For My Dog Bite Lawsuit in Webster Groves, MO?
Dog bite injuries in Webster Groves, MO can vary in their size, but one thing is undoubtable: they are no joke. Dogs have strong jaws — a study found that on average, a dog's bite exerts 320 pounds per square inch of force, more than twice the strength of a human's bite — and sharp teeth, both legacies of their predatorial ancestors. While, for instance, being bit by a shiba inu will not cause as many injuries as being bit by a German shepherd, the most common injuries our Webster Groves, MO dog bite injury lawyer sees include:
- Surface-level cuts and bruises
- Lacerations and puncture wounds
- Infections from canine saliva
- Broken or cracked bones
- Avulsion injuries
- Nerve damage
- Emotional trauma
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
A top Webster Groves, MO dog bite injury lawyer can help you recover money for all of these medical bills and more. In addition to standard hospital or doctor's charges, you can get money for any prescription drugs, needed rehab or physical therapy, and any psychiatric services you need in Webster Groves, MO. If the dog that bit you also damaged your Webster Groves, MO property — for instance, if you were bit and it also destroyed or damaged your mobile phone or tablet — a Webster Groves, MO dog bite injury lawyer can get you money to replace that, as well as damages for the pain and suffering the ordeal of being bit by a dog put you through.
Studies have shown that the vast majority of dog bite lawsuits never go in front of a jury. Webster Groves, MO insurance companies do not want to be exposed to having to potentially pay a substantial jury award, while plaintiffs like settlements as they avoid lengthy court cases and put money in their pockets as soon as possible. Recent data from the Insurance Information Institute revealed that the median dog bite lawsuit settlement in Missouri is almost $47,500, while the average settlement in Illinois is a little higher at $48,100.
Contact A Dog Bite Injury Lawyer Near Webster Groves, MO Who Fights For His Clients | Missouri Injury Law Firm Webster Groves, MO
Lawyer Gene Hou and his dog bite injury attorneys near Webster Groves, MO, know that getting bit by a dog is an experience no one should have to go through. The Missouri Injury staff spends time to get acquainted with all of its clients in Webster Groves, MO and ensures that they do not have to go through the legal process alone. In addition, the whole Webster Groves, MO dog bite injury lawyer staff brings a unique blend of legal knowledge gained both in private practice and in work as insurance company staff attorneys into the courtroom, meaning that Gene Hou knows how insurance companies work and can fight for your maximum financial reward.
If you or someone you know has recently been bit by a dog in Webster Groves, MO, do not wait to reach out to an experienced dog bite injury lawyer. Give us a call today at 636-333-1717 or reach out to us online to set up a free, no-risk case evaluation.