As a pet owner, your dog attacking someone is probably one of your worst nightmares. Pet owners are often held liable for dog bite injuries in Kansas City, meaning you would have to pay for the injured victim’s medical bills. This is generally the case even if your dog bit someone on your own property. However, the rules change if your dog bit someone who was trespassing.
What Does Missouri Law Say About Dog Bites?
A personal injury claim against you for a dog bite could make you civilly liable for the victim’s losses. You could also face criminal charges if you were the owner of a known dangerous dog and neglected to prevent an attack. This could make you criminally negligent, meaning you could face fines, jail time and even a felony conviction. A dangerous dog is one that has seriously injured or killed another person or domestic animal in the past.
In Missouri, someone could bring a lawsuit against you for an injury your dog inflicts even without proof of negligence. Missouri dog bite law holds a pet owner strictly liable for most attacks and injuries. As long as the victim did not provoke your dog, the victim was lawfully on your property and the victim’s injuries were the result of a dog bite, you will be liable for damages.
This law is the opposite of states that use a one-bite rule. A one-bite rule requires proof that the dog owner knew or reasonably should have known the dog might attack, typically through a history of the dog having bitten someone before, and negligently failed to prevent the bite. If you live in a one-bite state, such as Kansas, a victim will need proof that you negligently failed to prevent a foreseeable dog attack for you to be liable for damages.
Will My Insurance Cover the Damages?
If your dog bit someone in an unprovoked attack while that person was lawfully on your private property (or on public property), you will most likely be liable for that person’s damages. Liability means you will be financially responsible for the victim’s related losses, including medical expenses, surgeries, physical therapy, rehabilitation, lost wages, property repairs, and pain and suffering. Luckily, your homeowners insurance will typically cover these costs.
Homeowners insurance in Kansas City covers all of the property you own. This includes your pets, which are technically real property. Therefore, when a dog attacks or causes property damage, your homeowners insurance policy generally covers the losses. If you rent your property and have rental insurance, your provider will typically cover dog bite liability expenses as well, up to the limits of your policy. If the victim’s claim exceeds your insurance policy’s limit, you will be responsible for paying any remaining damages.
What Happens If My Dog Bites a Trespasser?
You may be able to protect yourself from a dog bite injury claim by raising a legal defense. One of the most common defenses is that the victim was trespassing or unlawfully on your property at the time. If the victim did not have your permission to enter your property but did so anyway, you will not be liable for any injuries your dog inflicted while the person was trespassing. You do not owe any duties of care to protect a trespasser, including a duty to prevent a dog bite.
You may also be able to use the defense that the victim provoked the attack. Provoking a dog to attack can take away a victim’s right to file a liability claim against the pet owner. Provocation can include pestering, poking or abusing the dog, with or without the intent to provoke an attack. For more information about Missouri’s dog bite laws and your liability if your dog bites someone on your property, speak to a dog bite attorney in Kansas City.