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. 

Who is liable for Dog bite injuries in Missouri?

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:

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:

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.

Kansas City Dog bite Attorneys

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.

Medical Expenses

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:

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. 

Property Damage

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:

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:

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.