Kansas City, MO Dog Bite Lawyer
Many of us see our pets as more than just animals – they’re part of the family. Most of us take proper care of our pets and would never give them a reason to bite, but others don’t dedicate the same training, care, and devotion to their animals. Some let their dogs run around public places without a leash, don’t properly contain them in yards, or even fall behind on vaccination schedules. When dogs are neglected or mistreated, they can become aggressive and prone to biting other humans or pets. The Kansas City dog bite attorneys at Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet can help guide you through the legal process after a dog bite injury in Missouri.
Why Choose Our Law Firm?
If you were bitten by a dog in Kansas City, you need an attorney on your side who can defend your right to compensation. At Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet, our lawyers are dedicated to protecting your rights and will fight for your maximum recovery.
- Our attorneys have significant litigation and trial experience. For years, we have helped Missouri residents hold negligent individuals accountable, including dog owners. We have the skills, resources, and knowledge to represent your lawsuit.
- We have recovered millions of dollars in settlements and jury verdicts on behalf of our clients. Our attorneys will work tirelessly to identify your optimal path to compensation and secure the settlement that you deserve.
- Our firm will assume all of the risk for your case by taking dog bite lawsuits on a contingency fee basis. If we do not recover a settlement on your behalf, you will not need to pay any legal fees or expenses.
The Dog Bite Liability Rule
Dog bites, like other animal attacks, fall under the legal concept of strict liability. For the uninitiated, these laws are tough to understand. Simply put, this means an owner can be liable for the actions of their dog, even if they took reasonable precautions to prevent a bite.
As a victim, you’re free to pursue a personal injury claim even if the owner of the dog wasn’t “at fault” in any way. For example, if you’re bitten by a dog at a public park, you can still seek compensation for your injuries, even if the dog was leashed. This stands even if the owner didn’t know his or her dog was dangerous.
How to Use Strict Liability as Grounds for a Suit
The rules of strict liability may seem like suing for a dog bite is a “slam dunk.” But you can’t file a personal injury claim against just anyone. Like any other case, dog bite cases require sufficient evidence and legwork. Generally speaking, you need to prove:
- You were injured. You can’t file a suit for being “almost bitten” by a dog.
- The dog was directly involved in your injuries. Medical records are often sufficient to prove a dog caused your injuries.
- You’re seeking a personal injury claim from the pet’s owner.
- You didn’t provoke the dog.
- You had a right to be in the place you were bitten (i.e., you weren’t trespassing).
The Dog Bite Statute in Missouri
In the past, pet owners were protected by the “one free bite” rule, meaning they couldn’t be liable for their dog’s actions if they didn’t know their dogs were dangerous. Most states, including Missouri, have moved beyond this. Now pet owners in Missouri can even face criminal penalties for dog bites if they knew their dog was dangerous. “Dangerous dogs” are those who have attacked before without provocation. Owners of dangerous dogs can be convicted of misdemeanors, even felonies if the injuries are serious enough.
Owners are NOT liable for their dog’s actions in the following circumstances:
- The victim was trespassing.
- The victim was in the course of committing a crime on the owner’s property.
- The victim provoked the animal.
Missouri law addresses more than just dog bites. Any injury caused by a dog can be justification for a personal injury suit. For example, you may seek compensation for your injuries if a dog knocks you to the ground.
Recovering Compensation After a Dog Bite Injury
A dog bite can have a significant impact on your life, financially, emotionally, and physically. You can recover compensation for these losses by taking legal action against the animal’s owner.
There are two types of damages that you can recover in a dog bite lawsuit: economic damages, which involve your financial losses, and non-economic damages, which involve the pain and suffering that you endured. Typical damages include medical expenses, lost wages, mental anguish, and property damage.
With their sharp jaws and teeth, dogs can inflict a lot of damage when they bite. You can suffer serious injuries, including broken bones, facial disfigurement, infections, deep wounds and lacerations, scarring, and blindness. These injuries sometimes result in permanent impairments, affecting your life for years to come.
In your lawsuit, you can recover compensation for any medical expenses associated with your dog bite injuries. You can also recover compensation for any disability accommodations that you need because of your injuries, such as modifications to your home or vehicle.
Your settlement can cover a number of medical services, such as the following:
- Hospital stays
- Doctor’s visits
- Prescription medications
- Physical therapy
- Mobility equipment
- Prosthetic devices
Medical expenses will likely make up a large portion of your award, so it is important to gather any documents related to your treatment. Bills, medical records, and invoices are crucial pieces of evidence. For any complex or long-term costs, your attorney can connect you with experts like medical professionals and life care planners who can assess your case and help calculate your award.
Lost Wages and Future Earnings
You may need to spend weeks away from work while recovering from your dog bite injuries. In some cases, your injuries may be so severe that you are unable to go back to work at all. In your lawsuit, you can claim the full value of your lost wages, as well as the loss of future earnings and benefits.
Several pieces of evidence can be used to prove lost wages and future earnings. Preserve any documents related to your wages and the time you took from work, such as pay stubs, tax records, employment contracts, and correspondence with your employer.
During a dog attack, it is common to suffer damage to your personal property. In your lawsuit, you can recover a settlement to repair or replace any damaged items, such as torn clothing or broken electronic devices. Evidence like photographs, invoices, and receipts can help establish your right to this type of compensation.
Pain and Suffering
Dogs can inflict a lot of damage when they bite. In addition to debilitating and sometimes permanent physical injuries, a dog bite can cause severe emotional damage. Many victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and a reduction in their quality of life.
By filing a dog bite lawsuit, you can recover compensation for the pain and suffering that you experienced as a result of the attack. These non-economic damages can encompass a range of physical and emotional consequences, such as the following:
- Emotional distress
- Permanent disability
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Depression and anxiety
Compared to economic damages, you cannot use bills or receipts to calculate pain and suffering. Usually, these damages are calculated using formulas that are based on either the severity of your injuries or the number of days that you spend away from work.
Statute of Limitations
In Missouri, the statute of limitations establishes specific deadlines for different types of lawsuits. For personal injury cases like dog bite claims, the statute of limitations is five years. This means that you have five years from the date of the dog bite to file your lawsuit.
If you do not file in time, the court will likely dismiss the lawsuit and you will not be able to recover compensation. Your attorney from Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet can help you identify the appropriate filing deadline and protect your right to financial recovery.
What Is My Dog Bite Case Worth?
When you file a dog bite lawsuit, it is common to wonder how much compensation you will receive. Dog bite lawsuits can range from a few thousand dollars up to a million dollars or more, so your individual damages will determine how much your claim is worth.
An attorney can help you identify all potential options for compensation and estimate your potential settlement. However, certain factors could have an impact on your claim’s value.
Factors That Could Affect Your Case’s Value
Dog bite settlements are dependent upon the individual losses that you suffered. Certain circumstances could yield a higher or lower settlement, depending on the situation. Below are some of the factors that could influence your claim’s value:
- The Severity of Your Injuries: In general, the more severe your injuries, the larger your settlement will be. Severe injuries are associated with a greater need for ongoing medical care, which can be expensive. You may also endure higher levels of pain and suffering and are more likely to develop permanent disabilities, which can incur additional costs.
- Your Ability to Work: You may need to spend time away from work recovering from your injuries or receiving treatment. In some cases, your injuries will be so severe that you are unable to return to your previous position or go back to work at all. Your ability to work will not only influence the lost wages portion of your award but also the pain and suffering component.
- Permanent Impairments: Permanent disabilities are associated with higher levels of pain and suffering. They are more likely to result in an inability to work, or the need to accept a lower-paying job. You may also require specialized treatment and additional accommodations, such as live-in care and mobility equipment. If you have a permanent disability, you will likely recover a higher award.
- Questions of Fault: Although dog owners are strictly liable for their animals’ actions, the owner may claim that you were partially responsible for the attack. For example, the owner may state that you were trespassing or provoked the dog. If the owner successfully proves this fact, your case may be dismissed or your award may be reduced.
- Your Medical Expenses: The cost of your medical care will make up a very large portion of your dog bite settlement. If you need minor first aid and a few stitches, your award will likely be lower. However, if you need extensive, ongoing care and specialized services like rehabilitation or physical therapy, your award will be higher.
What If You Are Partially Responsible for the Incident?
Missouri is a strict liability state for dog bite claims, so you do not need to prove negligence in order to recover compensation. However, if the victim was trespassing or committing a crime at the time of the attack, the dog’s owner is not liable for any bites that occur. The owner may also allege that the victim was partially responsible for the injury.
In this situation, Missouri’s comparative negligence statute will apply to the case. The court will then reduce the victim’s settlement based on the percentage of fault that he or she allegedly shared. The victim can recover compensation even if he or she is up to 99% at fault.
For example, say that the owner warned the victim that the dog was easily startled and to act calmly around the animal. Despite this, the victim repeatedly attempted to scare the dog. On the third attempt, the dog bit the victim. In this situation, the court may assign 60% of the fault to the victim, and he will only recover 40% of his settlement.
If you are accused of being at fault for the bite, you need a lawyer who can fight for your side of the story. In this situation, your attorney from Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet can help protect your right to full compensation.
Protecting Kansas City Dog Bite Injury Victims
Injuries from dog bites range in severity. Dog bites aren’t always serious, but they can also be devastating, especially when young children are involved. Medical treatment may include treatment for infection or reconstructive surgery. If you’re struggling under the weight of your medical bills or dealing with emotional trauma from an altercation with a dog, contact the Kansas City personal injury attorneys at Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet. We offer free initial consultations, so the call is at no risk to you. We only take on cases we believe will be successful, allowing us to give individual attention to every client. Talk to us about your personal injury settlement today.