Dogs are often called “man’s best friend,” but that doesn’t mean that every dog is a friendly one. Even the best dogs can bite when feeling scared or aggravated, but that doesn’t mean that a dog attack is a small matter. While anyone can be bitten by a dog, children are often at the highest risk for these attacks. There is a multitude of reasons for this.
Often, small children may not have the experience and social skills to understand when a dog is upset or may play too roughly with a dog. Some dogs are frightened of children due to unfamiliarity with them or the dog’s own bad experiences. Many children are attracted to dogs and want to give them attention, but haven’t established the understanding that they should ask the dog’s owner before approaching the dog. Dog owners, parents, and children alike may not understand the dog’s body language or may choose to ignore it, prompting the dog to feel it needs to defend itself. Other dogs simply have aggressive personalities, and may attack if they are not properly handled or contained by their owner.
Due to the wide variety of situation that can prompt a dog bite incident, it can be difficult to predict when such an attack will occur. Parents and owners alike may be surprised by the aggressive act, but that doesn’t excuse the responsible party from being held liable for any injuries that occur.
Understanding Missouri Dog Bite Laws
Before you can file a claim, it is important to learn a little more about Missouri’s dog bite laws. In Missouri, a dog bite claim can be filed if the incident meets 3 requirements:
- The injury was the direct result of the dog bite
- The injured person was on public property or was lawfully on private property
- The injured person did not provoke the bite
Missouri operates under a “strict liability” statute when it comes to dog bites. This means the dog’s owner is strictly reliable for the dog’s actions, even if they took steps to restrain the animal or prevent the attack from occurring. In addition to paying damages, the owner of the dog will also need to pay a $1,000 fine for the incident.
What To Do After A Dog Attack
If your child was bitten by a dog, it is likely to be a traumatic experience for you both. Dog bites can carry serious risks, including infection and emotional trauma. You may be able to file a claim for the attack if your child was injured. Here are the steps to follow after a dog has bitten your child.
Step 1. Seek Medical Attention
This is an important step for your child’s wellbeing and your claim. Dog bites can introduce infectious diseases or open wounds can become infected. In addition to concerns of infection, bites can cause serious soft tissue damage, and may require stitches or bandaging. If your child has not had a tetanus shot within the past 5 years, they should also receive one.
It is also important to seek medical attention to start a record of your child’s injuries resulting from the attack. This will be necessary if you were to file a personal injury claim later.
Step 2. Gather Information & Evidence
You will need to identify the dog in question. If it is a stray, contact the local animal control authorities for help. They may be able to locate and capture the dog. It is important to check the animal for rabies. If the dog has an owner or handler that you can locate, be sure to get their contact information, as well as insurance information, and the dog’s vaccination records.
Following the attack, you should carefully write down the details of the attack. If possible, write down the names and contact information of any witnesses, such as neighbors, friends, and passers-by. Take photographs of the scene, your child’s injuries, and the animal in question. Keep copies of all medical bills and records, as well as correspondence between you and the dog’s owner and the dog’s licensing records.
Step 3. Contact a Dog Bite Attorney and File Your Claim
Discuss your case with an experienced dog bite attorney, and show them the documentation and record you have. They can assist you in contacting the owner’s insurance company, drafting a demand letter outlining the details of the attack and the damages, handling negotiations, and more.
At Bertram & Graf, L.L.C., we understand the stress you may be facing after your child has been injured by a dog. Our experienced Kansas City personal injury lawyers are ready to advocate for your best interests and see that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Contact our team today for a free consultation by calling (888) 398-2277.