Dog Bite Law in Missouri: A Look at Strict Liability

Dog Bite Law in Missouri: A Look at Strict LiabilityAccording to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 4.5 million dog bites occur every year. Some of these dog bites are minor, but about 334,000 of them are serious enough to require emergency medical treatment. Dog bites are painful–not to mention expensive to treat. For these reasons, it’s important for victims to understand who is legally liable for their injuries.

“Strict Liability” Dog Bite Law in Missouri

Each state has its own dog bite laws. Missouri is a strict liability state, which means the dog’s owner is typically liable in dog bite cases. This is true regardless of whether or not the dog had a history of aggressive behavior. Because of the strict liability law, dog owners are held liable even when they did not have any reason to believe their dog was aggressive enough to bite someone.

When Are Owners Not Liable For Dog Bites?

Of course, there are several exceptions to the strict liability law. If the victim was trespassing on private property when the dog bit him, the owner is not liable. The owner is only liable if the victim was on public property or lawfully on private property at the time of the incident.

Owners are also not liable for dog bite injuries if the victim provoked the dog prior to the attack. Taking a toy or treat out of a dog’s mouth, invading a dog’s personal space, or exhibiting aggressive behavior can provoke the dog to attack. If a victim engages in this behavior and is bit as a result, the owner is not liable for the victim’s injuries.

What Dog Bite Victims Must Prove

In most personal injury cases, the plaintiff is responsible for proving that the defendant’s negligence caused him harm. But, the rules are slightly different in dog bite cases because of the strict liability law. Victims do not need to prove that the owner was negligent. There’s no need to show evidence that the owner knew the dog was dangerous or that the dog had a history of biting visitors. Instead, the victim simply needs to prove that they were not trespassing on private property or provoking the dog at the time of the attack.

If you have sustained dog bite injuries, contact the attorneys at the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center at Benjamin Law Firm, LLC at once. Our award-winning personal injury attorneys go above and beyond to maximize compensation for each and every client. Call our office at 816-322-8008, email us at or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation regarding your case today.

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