A Kansas City Dog Bite Lawyer Explains Liability
A dog bite can cause traumatic physical and emotional injuries. In some cases, nerve damage can cause permanent impairments. Scarring and disfigurement can lead to mental anguish and painful plastic surgeries.
Because a dog bite victim can incur substantial damages and losses, it is important to work with a personal injury lawyer who understands state laws related to dog bite claims.
Kansas and Missouri dog bite laws vary slightly. Kansas adopts the "one bite" rule, whereas Missouri uses strict liability to decide cases involving dog attacks or bites.
Our Kansas City dog bite attorneys understand the laws applicable in both states. We can help you file a claim to recover compensation for your injuries, losses, and damages.
Filing Dog Bite Claims Under Kansas Dog Bite Laws
If a dog injures you in Kansas, your personal injury claim is governed by the state’s “one bite” rule or general negligence laws.
Under the “one bite” rule, a victim must prove that the dog’s owner knew that the dog would bite or had reason to know that the dog would bite. Proving what someone “knew or should have known” is often the most challenging aspect of proving a dog bite claim under the one-bite rule. However, discovering evidence that the dog has bitten someone else or another animal or acted aggressively in the past can help prove what an owner “should have known” about the dog’s inclination to bite or attack.
The other law governing dog bite claims in Kansas is general negligence law. To recover compensation for a dog bite claim under general negligence laws, you need to prove the legal elements of negligence:
- The dog owner had a duty of care;
- The dog owner breached the duty of care by failing to use reasonable care;
- The breach caused the dog bite; and,
- The dog bite resulted in an injury and damages.
All dog owners owe a duty of care to others to act reasonably to prevent a bite or attack. Failing to act reasonably could include failing to have the dog on a leash or control the dog even though it was on a leash.
Filing Dog Bite Claims Under Missouri Dog Bite Laws
The dog bite laws in Missouri differ from Kansas dog bite laws. Missouri dog bite laws follow the strict liability theory for injury law. Under strict liability laws, a dog owner can be held liable for damages if the dog bites another person even though the dog owner may not have had any reason to know the dog could be aggressive or may bite another person. To recover damages under strict liability, a victim needs to prove:
- The injury sustained was caused by a dog bite;
- The dog bite occurred when the person was on public property or was legally on private property; and,
- The person bitten did not provoke the dog.
If a dog causes an injury by any other means than biting another person, the victim would need to follow general negligence laws to prove liability. The legal elements of general negligence claims are the same in Missouri as they are in Kansas.
Defenses to Dog Bite Claims
There are several defenses a dog owner may raise to avoid liability for a dog bite claim. Under Missouri laws, dog owners can argue that they are not liable for a claim because the victim was trespassing when the dog bite occurred, or the person provoked the dog, and the dog responded by biting the person. This defense can often arise when a dog bites a child. Kansas dog owners may also raise trespassing and provocation as defenses to dog bite claims.
If the dog owner is successful in arguing provocation or trespass as a defense for the claim, the claim may be denied entirely. However, the dog owner could also argue that even though the owner is liable for the dog bite, the victim was partially at fault for causing the injury. Under comparative negligence laws, a victim’s compensation can be reduced if the victim is partially at fault for the cause of the injury.
The comparative negligence laws vary by state. Missouri uses the theory of pure comparative fault for personal injury cases. Under pure comparative fault, the victim can recover compensation for his or her injuries, even if the victim is 99 percent at fault for the injury. The victim’s compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the victim.
Kansas uses modified comparative fault for personal injury claims. Under modified comparative fault, a victim’s compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the victim for causing the injury. However, if the victim’s percentage of fault exceeds 50 percent, the victim is barred from receiving any compensation for the claim.
A Kansas City dog bite lawyer is familiar with the laws related to proving liability and fault for dog bite cases. The attorney is also familiar with the various legal defenses to dog bite claims and how to argue against those defenses.
Compensation Available for Dog Bite Claims
Financial and noneconomic (pain & suffering) damages are common in dog bite claims. Victims in a dog bite claim may sustain a variety of losses and damages because of the dog bite injury including:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Physical pain and suffering
- Permanent impairments and disabilities
- Mental and emotional distress, including PTSD, depression, anxiety, fear, and other emotional disorders
- Future loss of income and loss of earning capacity
- Future medical and personal care
It can be difficult to calculate the value of a dog bite injury claim. Financial losses can be documented through written evidence, but pain and suffering damages are subjective and different for each person. An experienced Kansas City dog bite attorney can help you document damages and losses to maximize the chance you receive full compensation for your dog bite claim.
Contact a Kansas City Dog Bite Lawyer for Help
The Law Office of Kevin J. McManus helps clients who have been injured because of a dog or other animal bite or attack. We represent clients in the Kansas City metro area and throughout Kansas and Missouri. If you or a loved one have been injured due to the negligence of another, call us today 816-203-0143 for a free consultation with a Kansas City dog bite injury lawyer.