Mississippi Dog Attack Lawyers
Richard Schwartz & Associates Will Take Care of You & Your Claim
Victims of dog attacks suffer emotional trauma as well as physical injuries. If you have been bitten or injured by a dog in Mississippi, you could be entitled to compensation. Call the law firm of Richard Schwartz & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your dog bite case.
Call Our Experienced Team Now If You’ve Been Harmed in an Animal Attack – 601-988-8888
Any dog can be dangerous if caught at the wrong time. 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.
If you were bitten by a dog that was illegally off-leash or trespassing on your property, this fact might be used to reinforce the negligence of the dog owner. In a court that tends toward favoring dog owners, details like these can be important to a case’s success.
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 are attacked by a dog, ask the owner for their name and contact information before they leave the scene. At the very least, you will need to check with them and/or their veterinarian to see whether you are at risk for rabies. You also may need to request compensation for your injuries should medical bills, missed work, and other expenses start to add up.
Do I Need a Doctor?
You may need medical attention depending on the severity of the bite.
- If the wound is small and shallow, you should wash the wound, use an antibiotic cream, and bandage it.
- If the wound swells, becomes red, or feels warm to the touch, reach out to a doctor. You should also seek treatment if it aches, if you feel feverish, or if the dog’s behavior seemed strange.
- If a wound is deep, do your best to stop the bleeding by applying pressure with a clean and dry cloth. Seek treatment as soon as you are able.
- If you have not received a tetanus shot in 5 or more years, you should speak with a doctor.
- If a wound will not stop bleeding, call 911 right away.
- If a wound has punctured every layer of skin and has exposed muscle and/or bone, seek care as soon as you can.
- If you’re unsure about the dog’s vaccination status, you should see a doctor to test for rabies.
When Should I Contact a Lawyer?
Once you have received the care you need, it’s a good idea to reach out to a lawyer. You don’t have to file a lawsuit, but you should know your options before you make a decision. We offer free, no-obligation consultations to advise people like you who might not know the ins and outs of dog bite lawsuits. If you plan on suing but don’t know when, we recommend against waiting to speak to our team. We can help you sidestep common mistakes that might be used against you in court.
How Long Do I Have to Sue?
The statute of limitations for a dog bite is 3 years. This means you have some time to decide whether you want to sue. If you have questions, it’s a good idea to get them answered sooner rather than later: Filing a lawsuit takes more time than most people think. Bring your questions to our team if you are confused or conflicted. We want what’s best for you—and that starts with helping you make an informed decision.