If I was bitten by a loose dog on a public street, is the owner liable for medical expenses?

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If I was bitten by a loose dog on a public street, is the owner liable for medical expenses?

Would this be settled in criminal court or do I have to file small claims separately?

Asked on February 8, 2016 under Personal Injury, Missouri

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

When you complete your medical treatment and are released by the doctor, obtain your medical bills, medical reports and if applicable documentation of wage loss.
Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injury and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering which is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement
If the dog owner has insurance that is applicable to this situation, file your claim  consisting of the medical bills, medical reports and wage loss with that insurance company.
If the dog owner does NOT have any applicable insurance, you can sue the dog owner if the owner does not pay an acceptable amount to settle the case.  If the case is settled, NO lawsuit is filed.
If this is the first incident of the dog biting, your lawsuit against the dog owner will be for negligence (failure to exercise due care; that degree of care that a reasonable dog owner would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).
If the dog has a history of biting, your lawsuit will have separate causes of action (claims) for negligence and strict liability.  Strict liability is liability  whether or not due care was exercised.
This is a civil case (lawsuit) NOT a criminal case.  You can file your lawsuit in Superior Court (your state may have a different name for Superior Court).  If you file in Small Claims Court, you will be limited in the amount you can recover as compensation.
If the case is NOT settled, your lawsuit against the dog owner must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.
 


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