Your Joplin personal injury lawyers are familiar with the state laws that determine who is liable for a dog bite injury. That liability is typically based on who was responsible for supervising the dog and whether or not that individual knew of any propensity the dog may have had to bite or otherwise be aggressive. While it is most common that the owner of the dog will be held responsible for any resulting dog bite injuries, there may be other situations where liability may point to someone else.
How common are dog bite injuries?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 4.7 million dog-bite incidents occur in the United States each year. Of those 4.7 million, approximately 800,000 victims seek medical attention. Half of those victims are children. Other reports indicate that every day, approximately 1,000 U.S. citizens seek emergency medical treatment for dog bite accidents. A study published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and quality in 2010 indicated that the number of individuals hospitalized in the U.S., for dog bite injuries, has doubled over the last 15 years. Unfortunately, the average medical costs for dog bite-related hospital admissions were $18,200. The rate of emergency room visits related to dog bite injuries is substantially higher in rural areas.
Determining who should be liable for a dog bite injury
As your Joplin personal injury lawyers will tell you, the facts of each case are always different. So, depending on the particular facts surrounding your dog bite injury, there may be more than one person who can be held liable. The first step, however, is determining the theory of liability that is followed in your state. Some states impose “strict liability,” which means the only proof you need is that the dog caused your injury. If “strict liability” is not followed in your state, then you may need to establish that the dog’s owner knew the dog already had vicious propensities.
What if the dog was a stray?
It may not happen that often, but being bitten by a stray dog in the neighborhood can happen. But, who is responsible? Unfortunately, if you are bitten by a stray dog, you will likely not have a legal claim. Municipalities are not responsible for stray dogs, generally speaking unless the dog was being kept at a local pound and escaped. But, you must be able to establish negligence on the part of the city, for not properly detaining the dog. This is where your Joplin personal injury lawyers can help.
What if I’m bitten by a dog while on the job?
If you are required to enter the house or property of a third party in order to perform work, such as household repairs, for example, it is possible to be bitten by the property owner’s dog. Because you are asked into the house to perform the work, the person who owns the property has a legal duty to take reasonable efforts to protect you from injury. That means, if the property owner has a dog, he is responsible for keeping it away from you or at least warning you of its presence.
It may also be possible to file a claim for workers’ compensation with your employer if the injury occurred during the course of your work duties. You may also be able to bring the workers’ compensation claim, in addition to bringing a legal claim against the person responsible for the dog.
Compensatory damages in dog bite cases
While dog bite cases are a more specific area of personal injury, the types of compensatory damages to which an injured party may be entitled are very similar. Most dog bite cases include damages for medical treatment, loss of income for missed time at work, pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium and loss of enjoyment. Again, medical bills and lost income are easy to quantify. But, other damages require more analysis and consideration of the facts.
Damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress
Compensation for pain and serious discomfort suffered during an injury, or as an immediate result of the injury can be awarded in dog bite cases. It is also possible to be awarded a sum of money that compensates for any ongoing pain attributed to the accident. Emotional distress, typically linked to more serious injuries, is intended to compensate an injured party for the psychological effects of an injury. This could include fear, anxiety, and sleep loss.
How do I prove my emotional damages?
Though emotional damages are more difficult to prove, providing medical records and reports from counselors, psychologists, and other medical professionals goes a long way to establishing the extent of your injuries. Emotional damages can still be tough to establish, however, Joplin personal injury lawyers have an understanding of this area of the law, and experience pursuing these types of claims.
If you have questions regarding dog bite injuries or any other personal injury issues in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation, either online or by calling toll-free at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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