Pet ownership in the Kansas City area has grown significantly more diverse in recent times. While dogs and cats remain the most popular animals to own, many residents now have a varying array of different companions living with them. Birds, ferrets, snakes, primates, other reptiles, and even larger domesticated cats are all now popular choices for owners. With this decision to own a pet comes a very large responsibility and even a liability. All too often, family pets lash out and attack neighbors, small children, and passersby.
Animal bites and attacks can cause serious physical and emotional trauma, oftentimes leaving victims scarred for life. If you have been injured by an animal, big or small, you may wish to speak with an experienced Kansas City animal bite lawyer to discuss your legal options.
- What to do after a dog bite?
- What kind of bite injuries occur?
- What are the state laws on negligence
Consult a Dog Bite Lawyer in Kansas City, MO
With over 14 years of combined litigation experience, the Kansas City animal bite lawyers at the Dickerson Oxton, LLC have the knowledge needed to help you with your case. We handle dog bite and animal attack cases all over Kansas and Missouri and stand ready to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Due to each state adopting a different law for animal bites and attacks, knowing which laws protect you is key. Understanding the specific legal guidelines for a given case can be difficult for most. If you or someone close to you has been the victim of an animal attack, contact an experienced Kansas City animal bite lawyer at Dickerson Oxton, LLC today. Our attorneys offer client-specific strategies to help make your case a success.
You can reach one of our experienced animal bite and attack attorneys at (913) 428-8220. Alternatively, you can contact us online by filling out our free case evaluation form and we will get back to you promptly.
Being a smaller law firm, we are directly available to our clients and handle all cases with the utmost compassion. Unlike our larger competitors, who route calls through paralegals and assistants, our Kansas City personal injury attorneys are always directly available for questions or concerns. Adopting this client-first mentality allows us to personally connect with each victim and understand how they are suffering in order to assess their case. The dog bite attorneys at Dickerson Oxton, LLC are dedicated to a personal approach to compassionate representation.
At our firm, your initial consultation is always free of charge. When we do accept cases, we operate on a contingent fee basis. We choose to operate this way for the sole benefit of our clients, if we don’t win your case, you won’t pay anything.
What to Do After a Dog Bites You
Animal bites can happen anywhere, at any time. When a pet owner negligently fails to control or contain an animal, bites and attacks can happen. You may not be able to predict or prevent a dog bite, but you can prepare for one by knowing what to do afterward. Dog bite injuries can involve complex physical, financial, and legal matters. Navigating your incident requires taking a few important steps as the victim.
- Remain at the scene. Stay at the scene of the attack, safely away from the animal. Tell the pet owner to also stay at the scene until you can gather his or her information and call the police, if necessary. Stay calm and try to remain polite with the pet’s owner. Do not apologize or admit any fault for the incident.
- Get information. Collect information about your injuries, such as a description of the dog and the owner’s name. Get the owner’s contact information and insurance information as well. Take photographs of your bite injuries, the dog, and the location of the incident, if possible.
- Talk to witnesses. Write down the names and phone numbers of all who witnessed the dog bite or who were present at the scene. You may request statements from them, but police can do that for you as well. Eyewitnesses may be able to help you hold the pet owner responsible for the incident later.
- Get medical attention. Call the police and report the attack if your injuries are serious, or if you believe the pet owner was breaking a law. Request emergency medical care for your dog bite injuries. Dog bites can be painful and debilitating wounds. The sooner you get medical care, the better your prognosis for recovery.
- Prevent infections. Infections are a major concern with dog bite injuries. Receiving the proper antibiotics, wound flushing, disinfectants, and rabies shots as necessary can help you avoid a dangerous dog-borne disease or bacterial infection. Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly and watch for signs of infection, such as red or swollen skin.
- Report the attack to animal control. You may want to call Kansas City Animal Health and Public Safety if your accident involved a serious injury, broken law, or dangerous dog. Call 311 and explain your situation. Authorities may need to investigate the situation and assess whether the dog is dangerous. If so, the owner will have to take additional precautions to prevent attacks in the future.
- Keep copies of medical records and bills. Keep track of the information relating to your dog bite case. This includes any correspondence with police or animal control, medical records, and expenses relating to your injuries. Create an organized case file to show your lawyer later.
- Contact a Kansas City dog bite lawyer. Once you are on the mend from your injuries, pursue financial compensation for your damages with help from a lawyer. Hiring a lawyer can remove the burden of legal action from your shoulders. Your attorney can take over communications with the pet owner and insurance companies on your behalf.
A dog bite lawsuit could give you compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damages after an animal attack in Kansas City. Discussing a case with a lawyer is an easy way to get the information you need for the next step. A lawyer can review the details of your dog bite incident, help you file a claim with the owner’s insurance company, and deal with insurance claims adjusters in the pursuit of fair recovery. Your attorney can negotiate a better settlement on your behalf.
Injuries From Dog Bites
When animals do attack, they can cause a variety of severe injuries to victims. Some injuries include:
- Puncture Wounds
- Tissue and Muscle Damage
- Physical Scarring
- Psychological Turmoil
In almost every case, a victim of an animal attack has a degree of psychological trauma. This trauma can manifest itself as a fear or phobia of the type of animal which attacked them. Tragically, this and physical injuries can last a lifetime and can be radically life changing.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that approximately 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs alone each year. This number, while large in itself, doesn’t include the various other household pets that bite or attack people. Of these 4.5 million Americans, one in five requires medical attention while a shocking 31,000 must undergo reconstructive surgery due to these vicious attacks.
State Law and Negligence
Animal bites and attacks in Overland Park and the surrounding areas are subject to the Kansas state “One-Bite Rule” law. This law protects pet owners and at the same time assures the rights of victims. The victim of an animal attack must prove that the owner of the pet was either negligent, the animal has a dangerous propensity, or that the animal had previously attacked someone in the past.
Missouri places strict liability on dog owners, in the case of an attack, under RSMO § 273.036 of Missouri State Law. If the victim of an animal attack had a fault in the incident, all damages shall be reduced by the percentage that the damaged parties fault contributed to the incident. Negligence is defined as the conduct of a person which falls short of what a reasonably responsible person would or would not do in a given situation. Examples of negligence in relation to Kansas City animal bites and attacks are:
- Pet owners violating leash and/or muzzle laws
- Failing to secure a dangerous animal
- Letting a dangerous animal wander freely on a property
- Leaving an unsecured animal in a yard with the gate open
- Failing to secure a dangerous animal
- Pet owners violating muzzle laws
In Missouri, dog bites are more common than realized, and this is why there is a “dog bite statute” in place. The legal professionals at Dickerson Oxton want both the dog owners and those who suffered a dog bite to know their position within the statute.
In Missouri, the owner of the dog may be liable for any resulting injuries if:
- the injured party did not provoke the dog;
- the injured party was lawfully on private property or on public property; or
- the injury was the direct result of the bite.
The responsibility of the dog’s owner extends beyond the proven damages to a $1,000 fine. The fine is in addition to any awarded damages. Also, this statute falls within the strict liability statute placing fault upon the owner even if the owner showed reasonable care to restrain the dog.
General Advice to Prevent Dog Bites
As domesticated as dogs have become, all dogs have an instinct to protect its owner, its territory and its food. The natural mentality of a pack animal will surface when the perception of its order or authority is challenged. Although a dog will exhibit aggressive cues when challenged, many people, especially children, do not understand or react properly when these cues surface.
Children should always be cautioned not to approach a dog with sudden movements or noise, like running or screaming. There should always be the dog’s owner present when there are children or other adults around. If the owner is not present to reassure the dog that everything is OK, then the dog will feel the need to protect its territory when alone.
A dog should never be interrupted or disturbed while drinking or eating. Even if the bowls are empty, the dog’s “eating zone” should always be respected.
Negligence and Dog Bite Claims
Missouri’s dog bite statute is limited to bites and does not extend to injuries that may be caused by other behaviors or actions, like jumping. In this situation, the injured person would need to file a negligence claim against the dog’s owner. Then, it will be the injured person’s responsibility to prove that the owner did not exercise reasonable care to properly restrain the dog. This burden is not placed upon the injured party in a strict liability case.
In addition to civil penalties, a dog’s owner may be charged with a Class B misdemeanor if the owner is found guilty of keeping a “dangerous dog.” By definition under Missouri law, a dangerous dog is one that is involved in a biting incident without provocation for a second time.
The Class B misdemeanor charge can be elevated to the felony level depending upon the seriousness of the inflicted injury.
Defenses to a Dog Bite Claim
As noted above, the two key defenses to mitigate the lability of a dog owner are provocation and trespass. The translation of this into plain language is that the person who suffered the dog bite cannot recover damages if the dog was provoked or if the injured person was trespassing upon private property. The dog’s owner would not be liable for any damage in any one of these instances.
In a negligence claim, Missouri allows for the doctrine of comparative negligence to be applied. If an injured person is found to be more than 50% responsible for their injuries, then no damages will be recovered. Instances of provocation and/or trespass would place a degree of responsibility onto the injured person.
The legal team at Dickerson Oxton feel it is important for all parties involved in a dog bite claim to know and understand their position and rights under Missouri’s dog bite statute.
If you or a loved one has been injured from a dog or another animal bite, our attorneys are here to help. Our law firm offers free initial consultations with our clients. Or, to discuss the specifics of your case over the phone, call us at (816) 268-1960.