Bitten in Missouri: A Deep Dive into Missouri Dog Bite Laws

Bitten in Missouri A Deep Dive into Missouri Dog Bite Laws

Missouri has specific laws regarding dog bites and the liability of dog owners. If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite in Missouri, it’s essential to understand your legal rights and the responsibilities of dog owners. This comprehensive guide will explain Missouri dog bite laws, the criteria for determining liability, options for seeking compensation, and more. My goal is to inform and educate readers on this important topic in a clear yet engaging manner.

Understanding Strict Liability

Missouri Dog Bite Laws follow the legal doctrine of strict liability when it comes to dog bites. This means that a dog owner can be held liable for damages resulting from a dog bite even if the owner was not negligent or careless. The key aspect of strict liability is that fault does not need to be proven – the mere fact that the dog caused harm is sufficient for the owner to be held responsible under the law.

Some key aspects of Missouri Dog Bite Laws strict liability statute include:

  • The owner is liable regardless of whether the dog has bitten someone before or shown aggressive tendencies. Previous behavior does not need to be established.
  • The owner is liable even if the dog was provoked or in their territory at the time of the bite. Visitation status and provocation are not defenses against liability.
  • The only exceptions to strict liability involve bites that occurred on the owner’s posted property or when the victim was committing a criminal act like trespassing or theft at the time of the bite.

Establishing a “Dangerous” or “Vicious” Dog Classification

In addition to strict liability, Missouri dog law allows municipalities to declare a dog as “dangerous” or “vicious” based on its behavior. This classification subjects the dog and owner to additional restrictions and responsibilities.


Some behaviors that could lead to this designation include:

  • Biting or attacking a person or other domestic animal without provocation
  • Chasing or approaching people, bicycles, or vehicles in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack
  • Establishing a known tendency to attack persons without provocation
  • Having a history or propensity to bite numerous times

Owners of dogs labeled as dangerous or vicious face escalating penalties if the dog injures someone, including fines, criminal charges, and potential euthanization of the dog. They must also abide by fencing, leashing, signage and insurance requirements outlined in municipal ordinances.

Proving Damages in a Dog Bite Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you have suffered physical injury, medical costs or other damages due to a dog bite in Missouri, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the dog owner to seek financial compensation. Some key aspects to prove according to the Missouri Dog Bite Laws include:

  • Nature and severity of the bite injuries through medical records and expert testimony
  • All current and future medical costs such as doctor visits, surgery, therapy, medicines etc.
  • Lost wages if you missed time from work due to injuries
  • Pain and suffering experienced from both physical and psychological effects of the bite
  • Property damage if the attack destroyed items like clothing
  • Disfigurement or permanent scarring from bite marks

Keep detailed records of all related expenses, and consult with a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to discuss building a strong case for compensation. Most liability claims are settled out of court with a negotiated payout from the owner or their homeowners insurance.

Owner Defenses and How to Overcome Them

While strict liability applies in Missouri, dog owners in Missouri or their insurers may try several defenses in an effort to reduce or avoid paying damages:


Provocation – They could argue the victim taunted, tormented or abused the dog prior to the bite. However, under strict liability provocation is not a valid defense.

Contributory/Comparative Negligence – Claiming the victim was partially at fault by acting carelessly. A skilled attorney can rebut this by emphasizing you had no reason to expect an unprovoked attack under the circumstances.

Trespassing – Only applies if the bite occurred entirely on the owner’s property and they had properly posted no trespassing signs as required by state law. Your lawyer can review details to show you were not trespassing.

Assumption of Risk – Owners sometimes try arguing you willingly took on the risk of a known dangerous dog. But this fails if the dog showed no signs of aggression before or you did not directly interact with the animal.

By thoroughly investigating the case facts and circumstances, a dog bite attorney can overcome faulty owner defenses and establish clear liability under Missouri’s statutory protections. The strict liability law is specifically designed to hold negligent owners accountable when their dog causes unprovoked physical harm.

Alternative Dispute Resolution and Petitive Lawsuit Avenues

If direct negotiations do not result in a suitable settlement offer, your dog bite lawyer has additional options beyond filing a traditional lawsuit:

  • Mediation – An impartial third party helps facilitate a discussion and potential agreement. Less adversarial than litigation.
  • Arbitration – Similar to a mini-trial where an arbitrator reviews evidence and renders a final binding decision. Often faster than going to court.
  • Small Claims Court – For relatively minor cases under $5,000 that do not require attorney involvement to proceed in this simplified forum.
  • Petition for Dangerous/Vicious Designation – In some municipalities, families can apply for this classification if the dog has a history of biting or threatening others and its owner will not comply voluntarily. Tougher regulations are then imposed.

An experienced Missouri dog bite attorney understands which process delivers the optimal fair outcome for each client and case. They advise the strategies weighing factors like potential damages, available evidence and litigation costs.

Dog Bite Prevention Resources

While strict liability protects those bitten, the best solution is to avoid attacks completely through community education and individual precautions:

  • Report any loose, stray or visibly aggressive dogs to local animal control authorities promptly.
  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog or make direct eye contact, which can be seen as a threat. Give dogs space when out in public.
  • Small children should be closely supervised around dogs and taught proper safety guidelines like not running from a canine or disturbing it when eating.
  • Consider an alarm or citronella spray device on a lanyard for walks to deter charging dogs non-violently if needed.

I hope this comprehensive guide has informed and educated you about Missouri dog bite laws, liability issues, compensation options and preventative strategies. Please feel free to contact a local personal injury attorney if you require any clarification or have additional legal questions related to a dog attack incident. My goal is to help you understand your rights while promoting safer interactions within our communities. the Missouri Dog Bite Laws are there to help you in case of been a victim in an attack by a dog.