Dog Bite Injury Lawyer
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Dog Bite Injury Lawyer St. Louis, MO. Dogs are treasured members of the family and close companions, quite often the best of friends when the going gets tough. However, occasionally, man's best friend is not very friendly, and the natural animal instincts of dogs take charge. If that ever happens to you or a loved one, a top St. Louis, MO dog bite injury lawyer can be your best friend.
Attorney Gene Hou at the Missouri Injury Law Firm is a veteran St. Louis, 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 St. Louis, MO, with understanding as well as resolve. If you have been recently bit by a dog in St. Louis, MO, suffered injuries, and are looking to recover damages against that dog's owner, phone 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 St. Louis, 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 St. Louis, 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 St. Louis, MO.
What Should I Do After I've Been Bit By A Dog in St. Louis, MO?
The dog bite injury lawyer team at Missouri Injury knows the impact a dog bite can have on your life in St. Louis, 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 St. Louis, MO, you're most likely in a state of disbelief and uncertain about what to do next, just like if you were in any other kind of accident. And as in any other accident, there's a number of steps you should take immediately after it happens. Our St. Louis, MO dog bite lawyer encourages you to do the following if you suffered a dog bite injury in St. Louis, 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 St. Louis, 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 snapping photos 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 photos of the immediate area like street signs, cars parked nearby, and addresses — animal control in St. Louis, MO needs to tell people living nearby about the danger of a unleashed dog.
- Call 911. Animal Control in or near St. Louis will need to be contacted to begin their tasks after a dog has bit you. In addition, you should call to the St. Louis police. Not only should you ask for a report for your insurance records, but the police and other St. Louis, MO authorities also keep files 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. Ask the owner to provide info about the dog's veterinarian, tag, and their personal insurance. This is also a good 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. Regardless of the size of your injuries, we suggest calling a St. Louis, MO doctor or going to a nearby emergency room or urgent care center as soon as possible. Dog bites can easily lead to infection, so rapid treatment is critical. The only time you should skip immediate medical treatment is if you know the dog’s owner and they offer proof of vaccinations being up-to-date. Do not rely on verbal verification because people routinely forget when they have gotten their pets immunized. Also, and contrary to popular belief, the rabies virus is still a very real problem in St. Louis, 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 St. Louis, 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 St. Louis, MO. Our skilled and knowledgeable dog bite injury lawyer will be able to handle all of your concerns and questions. Give us a call 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, your dog bite injury lawyer 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 liable regardless of whether he or she took reasonable care to prevent the dog bite, such as constraining the dog, or did not realize the dog could be vicious. The statute also imposes a $1,000 fine to a dog owner held liable for a dog bite, in addition to any other damages you 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 liability under the Missouri dog bite statute include provocation and trespassing. If the dog owner can prove you aggravated the dog, possibly by petting or startling the dog, then you may not be able to recover the compensation. Likewise, you may not recover under the statute if the dog owner can prove you were trespassing on private property prior to 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 statute as it also includes sections about what happens to dogs after they bite another human, which in Missouri is reserved for local 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 liable 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
As in Missouri, Illinois has a strict liability statute, meaning the dog owner is legally responsible for a dog attack regardless of whether the dog acted viciously in the past or attacked someone on a previous occasion. Note, though that the Illinois statute covers all injuries caused by a dog, not simply bites. So, for example, if a dog jumps on you 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 St. Louis, MO?
Both Missouri and Illinois have largely matching requirements they follow after a dog bites a human being. The only difference is that Illinois' dog bite procedures are part of the state Animal Control Act, while Missouri's procedures are set by each county or city. While this allows for some differences in other matters relating to dogs (for example, some cities in Missouri expressly ban certain dog breeds like pit bulls), for the most part the protocol following a dog bite is identical.
Following the report of a dog bite, St. Louis, MO animal control will impound the dog for 10 days. The dog will be transported to a central location such as an animal shelter or a veterinarian's office near St. Louis, MO. The dog will then be observed for that time and checked for illnesses, most notably rabies. Before the dog is allowed to leave the facility, a tracking microchip is inserted into the dog, and if their owner has not done so already the animal is spayed or neutered. If St. Louis, MO authorities have deemed the dog to be safe, it can be released back into the care of their owner, but not before they pay for for all costs related to the care and feeding of the dog during its time under observation.
After a dog is back in the custody of its owner in St. Louis, MO, it is also entered into a statewide database of "dangerous" (in Missouri) or "vicious" (in Illinois) dogs. St. Louis, MO owners of dogs entered in these categories must keep them in secure pens or kennels, and when out in public they must keep them on a short leash and muzzled. If a dangerous or vicious dog bites another person a second time, they are once again placed under observation. However, this time the St. Louis, MO owners must file an appeal and show that they can maintain safe ownership of their pet. If not, it will be put to sleep.
How Much Can I Get For My Dog Bite Lawsuit in St. Louis, MO?
Dog bite injuries in St. Louis, MO can differ in their impact, but one thing is for sure: they are no joke. Dogs have strong jaws — a study found that on average, a dog's bite exerts 320 psi of force, more than twice the strength of a human's bite — and sharp teeth, both passed down from their predatorial ancestors. While, for instance, being bit by a shih tzu will not cause as many injuries as being bit by a rottweiler, the most common injuries our St. Louis, 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
An experienced St. Louis, MO dog bite injury lawyer can help you recover funds for all of these medical bills and more. In addition to standard hospital or doctor's bills, you can get money for any prescription drugs, needed rehab or physical therapy, and any psychiatric counseling you need in St. Louis, MO. If the dog that bit you also damaged your St. Louis, MO property — for instance, if you were bit and it also destroyed or damaged your mobile phone or tablet — a St. Louis, MO dog bite injury lawyer can get you money to replace that, as well as damages for the pain and suffering the process of being bit by a dog put you through.
Research has shown that the great majority of dog bite lawsuits never see a courtroom. St. Louis, MO insurance providers do not want to chance having to potentially pay a large jury award, while plaintiffs like settlements as they avoid drawn-out court cases and award them money in their pocketbooks as soon as possible. Recent data from the Insurance Information Institute found that the average dog bite lawsuit settlement in Missouri is almost $47,500, while the average settlement in Illinois is marginally higher at $48,100.
Contact A Dog Bite Injury Lawyer Near St. Louis, MO Who Fights For His Clients | Missouri Injury Law Firm St. Louis, MO
Attorney Gene Hou and his dog bite injury attorneys near St. Louis, MO, know that getting bit by a dog is an experience no one should have to go through. The Missouri Injury team takes the time to get acquainted with all of its clients in St. Louis, MO and ensures that they don't have to go through the legal process alone. Additionally, the whole St. Louis, MO dog bite injury lawyer staff brings a unique blend of legal expertise both in private practice and as staff attorneys for a major insurance firm into the courtroom, which means that Gene Hou knows how insurance companies do business and can fight for your maximum financial award.
If you or a loved one has recently been bit by a dog in St. Louis, MO, don’t wait to contact an experienced dog bite injury lawyer. Give us a call today at 636-333-1717 or contact us online to set up a free, no-risk consultation.