Dog Bite Laws Have Changed in Missouri

On May 25, 2010, in Dog Bite Attorney, Personal Injury, by K. Lindsay Rakers

Dog bite attacks can be vicious and result in serious injuries. Sometimes, especially in attacks of the elderly and children, the dog bites can be fatal. It is crucial that individuals injured in a dog bite attack seek attorney representation immediately. In most circumstances, the dog owner will not be cooperative. You need an attorney to gather crucial information right away. An experienced Missouri dog bite attorney will obtain statements from all witnesses and the dog owner, contact animal control about potential reports, document injuries, photograph the scene and will perform other important investigation actions.

In the past, dog bite attack cases have been difficult to prove. The State of Missouri typically required the injured to prove that a local leash law ordinance was violated or that the dog had violent propensities. This means that in order to recover, the injured had to prove with solid evidence that the dog had attacked before or had been violent towards another human being prior to the attack at issue. Proving such facts was difficult because ordinarily, dog attacks are random – in other words, the injured had no prior contact with the dog and therefore, certainly had no knowledge of prior aggressive behavior. Further, while the number has grown over the past few years, not all local cities and towns had leash laws or other dog related ordinances.

This all changed on August 29, 2009. The Missouri legislatures recognized the serious nature of these dog attacks and signed into law a provision that helps those injured by dangerous dogs. Missouri Revised Statutes Section 273.036 provides:

Section 273.036

1. The owner or possessor of any dog that bites, without provocation, any person while such person is on public property, or lawfully on private property, including the property of the owner or possessor of the dog, is strictly liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s or possessor’s knowledge of such viciousness. Owners and possessors of dogs shall also be strictly liable for any damage to property or livestock proximately caused by their dogs. If it is determined that the damaged party had fault in the incident, any damages owed by the owner or possessor of the biting dog shall be reduced by the same percentage that the damaged party’s fault contributed to the incident. The provisions of this section shall not apply to dogs killing or maiming sheep or other domestic animals under section 273.020.

2. Any person who is held liable under the provisions of subsection 1 of this section shall pay a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars. The remedies provided by this section are in addition to and cumulative with any other remedy provided by statute or common law.

The above statutes provide for strict liability for dog bites in Missouri. “Strict liability” is just a fancy legal phrase that means that the injured does not have to prove that the owner did anything wrong or that the owner knew the dog was violent. Instead, the injured person simply has to prove who owned the dog and that an injury resulted. Dog owners in Missouri no longer get “one free bite”. In other words, even if this was the first attack by that dog, the owner is liable. There are, of course, exceptions to this liability. The injured person typically cannot recover for a dog bite if that person provoked the dog or was trespassing. The specifics of dog bite injury law are vast and therefore, it is extremely important to hire a Missouri dog bite attorney to assist you with your case.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a dog bite, you need a St. Louis personal injury attorney or a St. Louis dog bite attorney. For a free consultation, please call Lindsay Rakers at 800.517.0602 or visit us at We only get paid if we obtain a settlement or verdict for you.


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