The Dog Days of August

In late August, we often hear the term "dog days" used to describe the sweltering weather. But that name could also be used for another reason: August is the last month of the peak season for dog bites. According to statistics published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 4.7 million dog bites occur each year in the United States.

For many dog bite victims, thankfully, the injuries are minor. But for some, the damages are severe and, occasionally, fatal. Each year, nearly 800,000 people in this country seek medical attention for dog bites, nearly half of them children.

In the past, whether the victim of a dog bite in Missouri would be compensated by the dog owner sometimes depended on whether the dog was abnormally dangerous. In some cases, this law prevented even the seriously injured from having their medical bills paid by the dog owner's insurance company.

But in 2009, Missouri adopted a new law which makes it clear that, in most cases, a dog owner is strictly liable for the injuries caused by his dog. Section 273.036 of the Missouri Revised Statutes states, in part:

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.

Our law firm is well acquainted with this law. We have handled cases involving dog bites in the St. Louis area, as well as out-state Missouri and Illinois. If you or a family member has suffered a severe injury as a result of a dog attack, feel free to contact us.


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