Any dog can be dangerous if caught at the wrong time. If you've been attacked, call 601-988-8888. With more than a third of families owning at least one dog, it’s not uncommon to cross paths with a parent and child walking their pet or a pup tied up outside a store. Most of these encounters pass without incident, but all it takes to change that is one vicious dog and a few seconds.
What You Need to Know About Dog Bite Laws in Mississippi
After being bitten by a dog, you may incur large medical expenses for disease testing, wound treatment, or even reconstructive surgery. Victims of dog bites may also sustain psychological harm from the trauma of the experience. If your injury is the direct result of a pet owner failing in their duty to train and/or control their dog, you could be able to recover damages through their insurance or the legal system.
Here’s what you should know if you or a loved one has been injured by an out-of-control dog.
The “One Free Bite” Rule and Mississippi Law
Many states specify that dog owners are responsible at all times for their pets’ behavior. However, Mississippi law is based on an old doctrine known as the “one free bite” rule. This approach allows owners to assume their dogs are harmless until proven otherwise. Only a dog’s first bite, the philosophy goes, proves that the animal may threaten others. After this point, it is an owner’s duty to control their pet so it does not injure anyone else. Otherwise, they can assume their dog will not endanger others and therefore cannot be held liable for an unexpected attack.
Though this rule is not codified in our state’s law, it does guide the approach we take for dog bite cases. The Mississippi Supreme Court case Poy v. Grayson laid out the expectation that if a dog owner knew or should have known their animal had a propensity toward meanness and might attack, they could be held liable for any injuries inflicted by it. If there were no warning signs, pet owners could not be forced to compensate the victim of their dog’s aggression.
The Poy case narrowed the scope of the “one free bite” doctrine by holding that even if a dog had not previously bitten anyone, behaviors like
- snapping at,
or otherwise making threatening movements toward a person indicated a potential proclivity for violence. Therefore, if such actions preceded the bite, a victim could argue that the owner should have foreseen the danger and taken necessary steps to keep the dog under control.
Other Dog-Related Injuries
Though bites are the most common type of dog-caused injury brought before courts, they are not the only danger people face. Dogs’ claws can cause harm, and a dog running at a person (or even a biker) could knock them over and result in fractures, sprains, or even head injuries.
Such cases have less legal precedent to guide them, but they are approached in the same way as dog bite claims. In order to receive compensation, a victim must prove that the attack was foreseeable and could have been prevented but for the owner’s negligence.
What to Do After an Attack
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are attacked by a dog, it can be a very scary and traumatic experience. However, it's important to try to remain calm and get as much information about the dog and its owner as possible before they leave the scene. One of the first things you should do is ask the owner for their name and contact information. This information will be helpful if you need to obtain information about the dog's vaccination status and determine whether there is a risk of rabies.
In addition to getting the owner's information, it's also important to take note of as much information about the dog as possible. This includes the dog's breed, size, and any identifying features, such as scars or markings. If there are any witnesses to the attack, it's also a good idea to get their contact information as well.
After the attack, you should seek medical attention right away. Even if your injuries appear minor, it's important to get checked out by a medical professional. Dog bites can quickly become infected, and you may need antibiotics or other treatments to prevent complications.
As you begin to recover from the attack, you may also need to request compensation for your injuries. This can include medical bills, missed work, and other expenses that may have resulted from the attack. Having the owner's contact information will be helpful in this situation, as you will need to contact them to request compensation.
In summary, if you are ever attacked by a dog, it's important to remain calm and get as much information about the dog and its owner as possible. Seek medical attention right away, and don't hesitate to request compensation for your injuries if needed.