Millions of people are seriously injured by dog attacks every year. On average, about 30-40 people are killed by aggressive dogs every year in the United States. The vast majority of those injured and killed by dog attacks are children. When a person is bitten or receives any dog-inflicted injury, the owner of the dog may be liable for the damages.
Mississippi Dog Bite Laws
Most states have strict liability laws regarding dog bites, meaning a pet owner is liable for any injuries caused by his dog, even if he had no idea the dog could be dangerous. However, Mississippi is one of only a few states that has a “one bite” rule for dog liability lawsuits. There is no specific statute in the Mississippi Code that addresses dog bite liability, but the “one bite” rule has been established and upheld through case law.
The “one bite” rule means that in order for the owner to be held liable for a dog’s bad behavior, the dog must have previously given some indication that it could be dangerous. If a dog has bitten someone before, this is a good indication the dog could be dangerous. However, a previous bite incident is not necessary to demonstrate dangerousness.
An injured person may be entitled to compensation if he can demonstrate that:
- The dog had “exhibited some dangerous propensity or disposition” in the past.
- The owner knew (or reasonably should have known) about his dog’s dangerous propensity or disposition.
- The owner should have been able to foresee that the dog would attack.
The statute of limitations for dog-inflicted injuries, as with other personal injury cases, is three years. When a person is injured by a dog, he must file a lawsuit within three years from the date of the injury, or he will be unable to seek recovery for this injury in the future.
Possible Defenses to a Dog Bite Lawsuit
There are several possible defenses that could be applied in a dog bite injury case. A defendant’s defense usually focuses on proving he could not reasonably have known his dog was dangerous or predicted it would attack in the future. If the dog was not known to be aggressive in the past, the owner may be able to successfully defend this claim.
Another defense is when the injured person contributed to his injuries by provoking the dog or trespassing. Often a dog that is generally not dangerous will bite if it feels threatened. Many dogs can be territorial as well, and will attack to protect their turf. In these cases, a defendant may be able to reduce the amount of damages he owes. If the defendant clearly knew his dog might attack someone, a posted “No Trespassing” or “Beware of Dog” sign might make a difference in his case.
Need Legal Help? Call a Mississippi Personal Injury Attorney Today.
If you or your child was seriously injured by a dog attack, you may be able to recover compensation for the injuries. Contact Derek L. Hall, PC, The Heavy Hitter in Jackson, Mississippi to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.