Dog Bite Lawyer St. Louis, MO. Dogs can be–and often are–valued members of your family and a friend who will always be loyal to you, no matter what. But as most of us know, dogs are descended from wolves and thus have sharp teeth, strong jaws, and a predator instinct. While most St. Louis dogs are docile and friendly, sadly, sometimes dogs revert back to their animal instincts and decide to sink their teeth into another human being.

Combs Law Group is an experienced St. Louis personal injury law firm that is ready to hear your St. Louis dog bite accident case. Our firm specializes in tailor-made legal solutions that are designed to get you the maximum possible compensation, all while providing a level of client service and satisfaction that is unmatched in the St. Louis area. Call us today at (314) 900-HELP to schedule a free consultation with a St. Louis dog bite lawyer to discuss your case.


Who Is Liable In A Dog Bite Case

Missouri laws regarding dog bites, and who could be liable for injuries, have changed greatly in the past few years. Before 2009, Missouri was what is known a “one bite” state. This meant that if a dog had never before exhibited signs of being aggressive, the owner was not responsible if it attacked another person. In practice, this gave dogs one free bite before victims could sue for their dog bite injuries and the dog’s owner could be deemed negligent. Currently, twenty states still follow this precedent for dog bite liability.

In 2009, the Missouri General Assembly changed the standard for dog bite liability. The state legislature enacted Missouri RS 273.036, which changed Missouri’s standard for dog bite lawsuits to a “strict liability” standard. Missouri is now one of 30 states (plus the District of Columbia) that uses strict liability for dog bites. The new statute says that any dog owner is liable if their dog bites another person without provocation, either on public property or if the victim was lawfully on private property, and the bite results in an injury. This is without regard to whether their dog had ever bitten anyone or anything before this incident, or otherwise showed any signs of aggression. In addition to potential civil damages their owner is on the hook for, the statute in Missouri also requires liable owners to pay a fine of no more than $1,000.

While this may make it seem as if dog owners are held responsible in all dog bite lawsuits, this is not always the case. The law states that the person being bit was the one at fault in the following two cases:

  • The person bit provoked the dog into biting them, such as by baiting or taunting the dog
  • The person that was bit was unlawfully on private property or ignored posted warnings about dangerous dogs

Missouri also uses a “comparative fault” standards for negligence. This means that a judge or jury can determine that both parties were responsible to a degree for a personal injury accident, including a dog bite, and assess damages in proportion to how responsible they were. For instance, if a jury authorizes a $100,000 award to a dog bite victim but determines that they were 20 percent at fault, the plaintiff will only take away $80,000.


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Reporting A Dog Bite

To put it simply, being bit by a dog in St. Louis is a lot like being in a car accident. Both are traumatic experiences, and you should react to both in a similar way: by getting out your phone or camera and taking pictures.

Important pictures you should take after you’ve been bit by a dog include:

  • The dog itself: get shots of the dog that bit you if you can. Even if they are blurry or from a distance, animal control authorities can use them to identify the color, size, notable markings or details, or potentially even the breed of dog that bit you and use it to alert others in the area.
  • The dog’s owner: ideally they should be with the dog, but in some cases he or she may leave the scene or have let their dog run off their leash. If they were at the scene, you should get info about the dog (including pictures of the dog’s tag), plus the owner’s personal information, insurance details, and the contact details of the dog’s veterinarian.
  • The area where you were bit: get pictures of nearby buildings, street signs and address numbers, and even cars around you. This will both assist animal control in finding the dog if it ran off and it may also help you find witnesses who saw the bite happen.

There are several key phone numbers you should call after being bit by a dog, such as:

  • Animal Control in your area: each county or city in Missouri has their own department of animal control. This is crucial because they are required to maintain records of dog bites and find whether the dog that bit you has a history of being aggressive.
  • 911: If you have been severely injured, you will likely need an ambulance. You should also file a police report, not only to have an easy-to-reference record of your case but also because if the dog has bit someone else prior to you, its owner can be held criminally liable under Missouri law.
  • Your doctor or medical provider: dog bite injuries should be treated immediately because of the risk of infection as well as rabies. Small, surface-level injuries like cuts or abrasions can wait for treatment, but we recommend visiting an urgent care center or emergency room as soon as possible.
  • Your insurance company: Your homeowners’ or renter’s insurance can assist you with bills after being bit by a dog, since they are considered personal property. You should also get the dog owner’s insurance details to file a claim with that company.

What Happens To A Dog In A St. Louis Dog Bite Accident?

Each city or county in Missouri is given the power under state law to create its own procedure to deal with dogs that have bit a human. While this allows for some variation in other matters relating to dogs (for example, some cities in Missouri explicitly ban certain dog breeds like pit bulls), for the most part protocol following a dog bite is the same regardless of where it occurred in the state.

After a dog bite is reported, local animal control will impound the dog who bit someone for ten days. The dog will be taken to a central facility like an animal shelter or a veterinarian’s office. They will then be placed under observation and inspected for diseases, especially rabies. Before they can be returned to their owner’s custody, a tracking microchip is implanted in the dog, and it is spayed or neutered if the owner has not done so already. If authorities have deemed the dog to be safe, their owner can take them back home, but not before they cover the cost of feeding and housing the dog during the observation period.

Once a dog is back in the custody of its owner, it is also placed into a statewide database of “dangerous” dogs. Owners of dogs deemed dangerous are required to house them in secure pens or kennels, and when out in public they must be kept on a short leash and muzzled. If a dangerous or vicious dog bites someone again, they are once again placed under observation. However, this time owners must file an appeal and prove that they can maintain safe custody of their pet: otherwise, it will be euthanized.


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Call An Experienced St. Louis Dog Bite Lawyer

At Combs Law Group, we bring the same level of fierce legal acumen to every case, including St. Louis dog bite cases. Our firm examines every aspect of your case and prepares a bespoke legal strategy that is driven to get the maximum compensation for your pain and suffering. We also understand that dog bite accidents leave both physical and emotional scars, which is why we offer our clients access to an extensive network of physical and mental health professionals to get you back to your full health.

If you or someone you know has recently been bit by a dog in St. Louis, contact Combs Law Group today for a free consultation. We take all our St. Louis dog bite cases on a contingency basis, which means that we don’t get paid unless you do, so you do not have to worry that hiring a top St. Louis personal injury law firm will put you out of pocket.