Dog Bites are More Common than You Think

According to statistics, there are around 83.3 million dogs in the United States kept in approximately 56.7 households. The CDC survey reports that are an average of 4.5 million American dog bite victims per year, 1.5% of the population. With 885,000 bites per year, almost one out of every five are serious enough to require medical attention. That number is somewhat deceptive as many dog bites go unreported. Dog bites send nearly 368,000 victims to the hospital emergency departments yearly (1,008 daily). Dog bite injuries can range from minor to major reconstructive surgery and even death.

Missouri Does Not Have the “One Bite Law”

Few states still have the “one bite law”. Another name is the “one free bite rule” which is a legal doctrine that determines whether the owner of a domestic animal such as a dog can be held legally liable for injuries caused by that animal. Missouri does not have the “one bite rule’ rather Missouri has strict liability for dog bite injuries. Most states have enacted dog-bite statutes and most often these statutes create a form of “strict liability” for dog bites. Strict liability means that the defendant is held liable if a certain event occurs, regardless of whether the defendant could have done anything to prevent the event. The typical strict liability dog bite statute says that the defendant is liable if his dog bit a plaintiff and:

  • The plaintiff was legally allowed to be where he was when the bite occurred, and
  • The plaintiff did not provoke the dog.

If You are the Victim of Dog Attack

If you are bitten by a dog, the following steps are important:

  1. Seek immediate medical care. Depending on the seriousness of your injuries, immediate first aid and medical care are crucial. The risk of infection after a dog bite is too big of a risk to ignore medical treatment.
  2. Identify the dog. Find out who owns the dog or if it is a stray to determine whether it has had rabies vaccinations. The outcome of the dog identification is an important factor in your medical care as it determines whether you will have to go through the painful rabies vaccination regime described above.
  3. Gather information. To safeguard your future rights as a victim of a dog bite, obtain the name and address of the dog owner in addition to the dog license information.
  4. File an incident report with your city, county or animal control, or Sheriff’s department. These legal documents create a paper trail authorities will need to enforce effectively
  5. Photograph injuries. Again, document your injuries and treatment in order to safeguard your future rights. Photograph your injuries even if you have to unwrap gauze–obviously, confer with a doctor and or nurse as needed in order to do this step as they will advise you on a safe manner in which to do so.
  6. Contact a dog bite attorney. Just like any other accident, the earlier you contact an attorney, the better. An attorney can assist with the documentation and investigation of the dog bite incident. Besides your attorney, your doctor and medical providers will be the primary people who will look after your best interest.

Dog bites are not reported well and then often, the follow through on gathering information regarding the offending animal is not done thoroughly unless the injuries are extremely serious or fatal. Many times, individuals do not know what to do following a dog bite. As individuals as well as dog owners, we need to know the process after a dog bite. As many of us are dog owners, we have a natural sympathy for dogs–they are man’s best friend. Almost all dogs are capable of biting as it is a natural reaction to fear and/or pain. Being sure your dog is never put into a situation where they are fearful or hurt decreases the likelihood they will bite another. Animals that are allowed to run freely about the community are a huge problem when it comes to biting.

Gathering information and documenting your injuries and treatment are critical aspects if you are the victim of a dog attack. An experienced dog bite attorney can assist you in the reporting and documenting process following a dog bite.

If you have questions, our attorneys are available seven days a week for free consultations at 314.276.1681.

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