Can I hold the owner liable after a dog bites me?

An Aggressive German Shepard Both Illinois and Missouri take a strict stance when it comes to owning a dog. In both states, the pet owner can be held liable if a dog bites an individual. While some other states offer a “one-bite rule,” which gives owners a second chance after an initial incident, Illinois and Missouri dog owners are subject to what is known as strict liability. In short, pet owners in these states are responsible for any injuries caused by their pets, regardless of the circumstances surround the bite or other injury.

Requirements for Dog Bite Liability

The injured people do have some responsibility in these situations, however. In Illinois and Missouri, a dog owner can be held liable only if:

  • The animal caused the bite or injury. In Missouri, the law covers only dog bites. In Illinois, any injury caused by a dog could be considered.
  • The injured person was on public property or had a legal right to be in the place where the attack occurred.
  • The injured person did not provoke the dog.

In Missouri, an injury caused by a dog related to something other than a bite is also possible, but the injured person would have to pursue negligence charges against the pet owner.

Related Charges and Possible Defenses

It is also possible that criminal charges can be filed against the dog owner. If a dog attacks a person without provocation on more than one occasion or causes serious injury or death, it could be classified as “dangerous” or “vicious.” Dangerous and vicious dog owners could be subject to criminal charges, fines, probation, or even jail time.

Finally, not every dog bite or injury case is reasonable. Dog owners in Illinois and Missouri would not be held responsible if they prove that the injured person was either trespassing or provoked the animal. Provocation could include poking, teasing or abusing a dog, or attempting to get close to a mother’s puppies. Trespassing would occur if the injured person was unlawfully on the dog owner’s property.

If you or someone you love has suffered injuries related to a dog attack, the experienced legal team at the Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm can help. Contact our office today at 855-522-5291 for a free, no-obligation consultation.