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How To Prove Fault In A Dog Bite: Proving Fault in Dog Bites Made Simple!

By Gene Hou

June 3, 2024

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Table of Contents

    Being involved in a dog bite incident can be a traumatic experience. If you have been bitten by a dog and want to prove fault, it’s important to understand the legal steps and gather the necessary evidence. This article will guide you through the process of establishing liability in a dog bite case.

    1. Duty of Care: Establishing the Owner’s Responsibility

    The first step in proving fault is to establish the owner’s duty of care. This means demonstrating that the dog’s owner had a responsibility to prevent harm and ensure the safety of others. To do this, you need to show that the owner had control over the dog and failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent the bite.

    2. Breach of Duty: Showing Negligence

    Once you establish the duty of care, the next step is to prove that the owner breached that duty. This requires demonstrating that the owner’s lack of reasonable care directly led to your injury. Evidence of prior aggressive behavior or a history of biting incidents can be used to show that the owner had knowledge of the dog’s vicious propensities.

    3. Causation: Linking the Owner’s Negligence to Your Injury

    To prove fault, you must establish a causal link between the owner’s negligence and your injury. This means showing that the owner’s breach of duty directly resulted in the dog bite. Collecting witness statements and documenting the incident can help establish this link and strengthen your case.

    4. Damages: Calculating Compensation

    The final step in proving fault is to demonstrate the damages you have suffered as a result of the dog bite. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other losses you have incurred. Proper documentation of your injuries and their impact on your life is crucial in calculating the compensation you deserve.

    5. State Laws and Liability

    It’s important to note that dog bite laws vary from state to state. Some states follow a “one-free bite” rule, where the owner may not be held liable for the first bite if they had no prior knowledge of the dog’s aggressive behavior. Understanding the specific laws in your state is essential in building a strong case.

    What Kind Of Evidence Will I Need?

    When it comes to proving fault in a dog bite injury case, gathering the right evidence is crucial. As a responsible pet owner, you have a duty to prevent your canine from harming others. If your dog bites someone, whether they were bitten on your property or elsewhere, you may be held liable for their injuries. To establish negligence on the part of the owner and show that they knew or should have known about the risk of their animal biting someone, there are several key pieces of evidence that can strengthen your case. Taking photos of any prior incidents where the dog showed aggressive behavior towards people can serve as valuable documentation. Medical records detailing the victim’s injuries and care received will also be important in demonstrating the harm caused by the attack. 


    Additionally, it is essential to gather any records showing that the owner failed to take reasonable steps to prevent their pet from biting others. This could include evidence of previous attacks or complaints about their animal’s behavior. By presenting this information, you can establish liability and seek compensation for personal damages under strict liability laws. In conclusion, when faced with a dog bite injury case, collecting compelling evidence is key in establishing responsibility and seeking legal recourse for any harm suffered. By being proactive in documenting incidents and showing negligence on behalf of the pet owner, you can build a strong case for compensation under applicable statutes with assistance from an experienced lawyer specializing in animal attack cases.

    Is Evidence Time-Sensitive?


    Time is of the essence when it comes to gathering evidence in cases involving dog bites. It is crucial to act swiftly and document any injuries sustained as a result of a canine attack. This documentation can prove invaluable in establishing fault and negligence on the part of the dog owner. Taking photos of the injury, seeking medical care, and keeping detailed records are all essential steps to take following a dog bite incident. These actions serve as concrete evidence that can demonstrate the harm caused by the aggressive behavior of the animal. It is important to show that the owner knew or should have known about their pet’s aggressive tendencies prior to the attack. 


    By presenting this evidence, you can establish liability and seek reasonable compensation for your injuries. In cases where strict liability laws apply, such as in some states’ statutes regarding dog attacks, it is even more critical to gather all necessary documentation promptly. Failure to do so could jeopardize your ability to prove your case and hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. Remember, time is of the essence when it comes to collecting evidence in dog bite cases. By taking immediate action and documenting all relevant information, you can strengthen your legal position and increase your chances of receiving fair compensation for any damages suffered.


    Who’s Liable in Missouri?

    Before 2009, personal injury law relating to dog bites in Missouri was notoriously unfriendly to plaintiffs, or those who had been bit by a dog. Missouri operated under what is known as a “one-bite” standard. Under that standard dog owners were not liable for damages if their dog had never shown signs of aggression before the first time they bit another person. In practice, it meant that plaintiffs had to prove that the dog that bit them had a prior record of being aggressive and that their owner knew as much in order to recoup damages, which was not an easy task.

    But a new law, officially known as Missouri RS 273.036, came into effect in 2009. This eliminated the “one bite” framework for dog bite damages and replaced it with one of “strict liability”. No longer could a dog’s owner say that he was unaware his pet was dangerous to humans. Now, owners were responsible for the actions of their dogs at all times, and the onus was on them to prove that their dog biting someone was not their fault.

    Exceptions to Strict Liability

    While it may seem like this new law means that dog owners are held responsible in all dog bite lawsuits in Missouri, this is not always the case. The law states that the person being bit was at fault in the following cases:

    • The person bit provoked the dog into biting them, such as by baiting or taunting the dog
    • The person that was bit was unlawfully on private property or ignored posted warnings about dangerous dogs

    Missouri also operates under a “comparative fault” system for negligence. This means that a judge or jury can determine that both parties were responsible to a degree for an incident, such as a dog bite, and assess proportional damages. For example, if a jury authorizes a $100,000 award to a dog bite victim but judges that he or she was 25 percent at fault, the plaintiff will only take away $75,000.

    Get In Touch With a Missouri Dog Bite Attorney

    Proving fault in a dog bite incident requires gathering strong evidence and following the necessary legal steps. By establishing the owner’s duty of care, showing negligence, linking the owner’s actions to your injury, and calculating damages, you can build a compelling case. Remember to consult with a lawyer who specializes in dog bite cases to ensure you have the best chance of success.

    Every dog bite lawsuit is unique. You may think you were entirely not at fault for getting bit by a dog, but an investigation may find out that you may have contributed in some way to your accident.

    In any case, it’s important to have a top dog bite lawyer in Missouri to help you throughout the legal process. Contact attorney Gene Hou today or call him at (636) 333-1717 for a no-obligation discussion of your case.

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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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