What are my options if I being sued because my dog nipped someone?

UPDATED: Jun 13, 2014

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What are my options if I being sued because my dog nipped someone?

A friend came in to my house and sustained a small bite from my dog. She was antagonizing the dog and he didn’t like it. It was a small red mark, no blood. We put some cream on it and she left several hours later. Now I have received bills in excess of $650 for 2 nurse practioner visits, 4 chiropractor visits and 2 visits to a therapist for the PTSD this caused.

Asked on June 13, 2014 under Personal Injury, Missouri


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Missouri imposes strict liability on dog owners for dog bites, whether or not their dogs ever bit anyone in the past. However, provocation is a defense. The provocation doctrine states that a dog bite is justified under certain circumstances, so that neither the dog nor the owner, harborer or keeper of the dog may be held responsible civilly or criminally. The facts will determine justification. Generally, actions of the person bitten which would have triggered the doctrine of self-defense if the dog were a person are usually considered to be provocation. Like hitting a dog and causing it to feel pain usually constitutes provocation. The dog's reaction to the act of provocation, however, cannot be grossly out of proportion to the provocative act itself. Wade v. Rich (Ill. Ct. App. 1993), 618 N.E.2d 1314. I would speak with a lawyer. ASAP.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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