As much as we like to believe that every Fido or Fluffy is well-behaved and harmless, this is simply not true. Any dog, no matter how sweet and beloved, can potentially bite or attack someone.
When a dog attack happens, victims need to understand their options. Keep reading to learn what to do after an attack, the basics of Mississippi dog bite law, and how a lawyer can help you resolve your case.
What Everyone Should Know About Mississippi Dog Bite Law
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 4.7 million people suffer dog bites every year, and roughly 800,000 of them seek treatment for their wounds. Many victims are children.
Compared to other states, Mississippi takes a different approach to dog bite law. First, we don’t have a state statute that addresses dangerous, aggressive dogs. Instead, our courts apply a variety of legal rules and court decisions in these claims.
Second, Mississippi is one of the few states that has a “one bite” rule. Under this rule, owners are not financially responsible for their dog’s behavior unless it has shown signs of being dangerous or has previously bitten someone.
Thankfully, the Mississippi Supreme Court has clarified the “one bite rule.” In the court’s ground-breaking dog bite case, a German Shepherd puppy bit a city worker. The worker lost his dog bite lawsuit because he had not previously been afraid of the dog and had never seen it growl or act aggressively.
To collect compensation for your injuries after a dog attack, you must prove:
- The dog exhibited dangerous characteristics or vicious behavior in the past.
- The owner knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous.
- The owner should have anticipated the dog’s attack.
A previous bite is one way many victims prove that the owner should have foreseen a dog attack, but it’s not the only way. You can also present evidence of growling, snapping, aggression towards other animals, destructive behaviors, and other worrisome conduct.
However, the dog owner isn’t likely to admit to their pet’s past misconduct. Instead, you’ll need to carefully investigate the animal, consulting with witnesses, animal control authorities, and other experts. If you have questions about the steps you need to take to get justice after a dog attack, you should speak with a dog bite attorney right away.
What to Do After a Dog Attack in Mississippi
After getting mauled by a dog, victims are often filled with a variety of emotions: shock, sadness, anger, fear. These emotions can be paralyzing and keep people from taking steps to protect themselves. However, you need to act quickly to protect your legal rights.
At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we suggest that you follow these four simple steps.
1. Get Medical Treatment
If the bite is severe or involves the face or head, call 911 immediately and request an ambulance. The victim may need immediate medical attention from emergency medical specialists and surgeons.
After a minor bite, you must clean the wound to lower your risk of infection. Wash the wound with soap and warm water and wrap it in a sterile cloth. Then, seek medical attention as soon as you can. The doctor will probably prescribe you antibiotics—and you may need stitches.
2. Investigate and Report the Dangerous Dog
If you can, it’s always a good idea to get information about the dog that bit you. First, details about the dog’s vaccination history and health can help your doctors treat your injuries. Second, information about its behavioral history can help your injury lawyer evaluate your legal claims.
Additionally, if your community has a dangerous dog ordinance, you should report the attack to the authorities. For example, under a City of Pascagoula “vicious dog” ordinance, owners of identified vicious dogs must take specific actions to protect the community. If they fail to follow these rules, the owner is guilty of a misdemeanor—and their violations can be valuable evidence in a personal injury claim.
3. Preserve the Evidence
After an attack, you should preserve as much evidence as possible. Take pictures of your wounds and the location of the attack. Until you discuss it with your lawyer, don’t wash or throw away your bloody or ripped clothing.
Keep track of your bills as well; if you need to file a lawsuit to get reimbursed for your expenses, detailed records are essential.
4. Consult With a Mississippi Dog Bite Lawyer
Sometimes, dog bite wounds heal quickly, the owner offers to help you pay for treatment, and you can move on with your life. However, it’s more likely that the owner will deny responsibility, and you’ll face pain, suffering, and unexpected bills.
A lawyer may help you get the compensation and justice you deserve. However, it’s in your best interest to seek legal help quickly. Mississippi’s statute of limitations for dog bites is three years. If you don’t file a lawsuit within that period, you’ll lose your right to compensation.
Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: Defending Victims of Dangerous Dogs
At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we love our four-legged friends. We also take pet ownership seriously. That’s why we’re proud to stand up for dog bite victims and fight for their right to recover the compensation they deserve.
If a dangerous dog hurt you or someone you love, you have options. We offer free, no-risk case evaluations to every potential client. We’ll meet with you to learn your story and give sound legal advice.
To meet with one of our lawyers at our Pascagoula office, complete our online form or call 228-888-8888 today. Our office is conveniently located at 906 Convent Avenue, Pascagoula, MS 39567. We look forward to hearing from you!
Poy v. Grayson. 273 So.2d 491 (Miss. 1973). Retrieved from https://casetext.com/case/poy-v-grayson
Preventing dog bites. (2019, April 8). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/features/dog-bite-prevention/index.html
Sec. 10-7, Pascagoula Code of Ordinances. Retrieved from https://library.municode.com/ms/pascagoula/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=COOR_CH10AN
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.