According to the American Humane Society, 4.7 million dog bites occur every year, and approximately 800,000 require hospitalization. Missouri follows the principle of strict liability regarding dog bites. This means that, barring certain circumstances like trespassing, owners of dogs who bite are responsible for the victim’s injuries, even if they did not know that the dogs were dangerous. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, follow these tips to exercise your rights and get the compensation you need.
- Gather information. Get contact information for the dog’s owner, including his or her name, address, and phone number. You should also be sure to obtain information about the dog, like breed, age, and name. If you are injured, take pictures of your injuries to prove their severity. All of this information will be vital to any insurance claim you file.
- Call Animal Control. You have a duty to report the dog as dangerous, so call Animal Control and make an official report about the incident. This will allow you to pursue legal remedies, if you choose.
- Do not speak to insurance companies. Despite what you may think, insurance companies do not always have your best interests at heart. Even your own insurance company is primarily interested in paying the minimum amount to you for your injuries. To protect yourself, do not give any statements to insurance representatives and do not sign any documents they give you. Even simply cashing a check can be interpreted as acceptance of their offered settlement.
- Contact an attorney. For assistance dealing with insurance companies, or to discuss filing a lawsuit, contact a dog bite attorney. You need an expert on your side to help you deal with the complexities of this situation. A lawyer will protect your rights and work to maximize your settlement.
Not only are dog bites painful, but they can also lead to permanent disfigurement and pain. If you’ve been the victim of a dog attack, contact the attorneys at Coyne Cundiff & Hillemann for the representation you need to obtain a fair settlement. To contact our office in St. Louis, call (636) 561-5599.