Dog Bite Lawyer in Missouri


Humans first domesticated dogs thousands of years ago, and although canines may seem friendly today, they never truly lost their wolflike genetics. Dogs can be territorial, fiercely protective, and aggressive – with even the smallest breeds sharing up to 99.9% of their DNA with lupine ancestors. In fact, most biologists agree that dogs and wolves are one and the same species.

Although this might seem difficult to believe, dog bite survivors know how quickly a domesticated canine can exhibit wolflike behavior. Within milliseconds, dogs may return to their wild, animalistic roots – lunging suddenly at victims with bared teeth.

These incidents can be disfiguring, traumatic, and in some dog bite cases, fatal. Whether a dog has scarred your face or harmed a loved one, you may be searching for a dog bite lawyer in Missouri. These legal professionals can hold dog owners accountable for life-altering attacks while pursuing justice and closure on your behalf.

More importantly, a dog bite lawyer can guide you toward compensation for all of your various damages. Reach out to Sotiriou Wilmowski today for more information on how to proceed.

Liability in a Dog Bite Injury

Liability is an important concept in the context of dog bite lawsuits. When a defendant is “liable” for a plaintiff’s injuries, they are legally required to provide compensation for all related damages. As a result, proving liability is crucial if you want to cover your medical bills, missed wages, and emotional distress after a dog bite.

The Concept of Strict Liability in Dog Bite Lawsuits

Like most states, Missouri follows a “strict liability” doctrine when it comes to dog bites. Section 273.036 of the Revised Statutes of Missouristates that a dog owner is strictly liable for your damages if their animal bites you on public or private property.

When you hold a dog owner strictly liable in Missouri, there is no need to prove that they were negligent. Instead, you only need to show that you suffered real injuries caused by their dog. You can hold a dog owner strictly liable even if the dog attack was not their fault.

For example, they may have carefully trained the animal, walked it with a leash, or chained it to a post in their backyard. Even if they are the most responsible dog owner in the world, they are still responsible for any injuries caused by their animal.

Pursuing Legal Action Against Dog Owners

Suing a dog owner is perhaps the most obvious option after a dog bite. You can sue a dog owner regardless of where the attack took place. Perhaps you were walking down the street when a passing dog suddenly lunged at you. Maybe you were attempting to deliver a parcel, and you were attacked by a dog after entering someone’s front yard. Whatever the case may be, you can hold the dog owner strictly liable for your injuries.

Can I Hold Landlords Liable for Dog Bites?

Another potential option is to hold landlords or property owners liable for dog bites. This may prove beneficial, as the dog owner may have limited funds to pay your damages. On the other hand, a landlord could have enough assets to completely cover your medical expenses, missed wages, and emotional distress. They might also have insurance coverage that could cover your various damages.

That said, it may be more challenging to hold landlords liable for dog bites compared to owners. To achieve success in this type of lawsuit, you may need to prove that the landlord was aware of the hazard posed by the dog and yet did nothing to address it. Another option is to show that the landlord “harbored” the animal in some way.

While holding a landlord liable for dog bites may be challenging, it is certainly possible with assistance from a qualified dog bite lawyer. Simply showing that a landlord fed the dog on one occasion may be enough to show that they harbored the animal. Alternatively, you might show that the landlord routinely filled the animal’s water bowl while checking on tenants.

Factors That Affect Liability

While you can hold dog owners accountable for your injuries, there are a few factors that may affect liability. Some of these issues may arise during your dog bite lawsuit in Missouri.


If possible, a defendant will likely try to claim that you were trespassing on their property at the time of the animal attack. Section 273.036 states that you can only hold a dog owner strictly liable if you were “lawfully” on their private property. Although this can affect your ability to sue, an experienced dog bite lawyer can push back against trespassing allegations.

The Existence of Injuries

It is your responsibility to prove the existence of your own injuries. If you did not suffer any physical injuries, you cannot file a dog bite lawsuit. Psychological trauma alone does not justify a personal injury claim.

Alleged Provocation

Section 273.036 also states that if you provoked the animal into becoming violent, you may lose the right to sue. This represents another common defense strategy used by owners and landlords in dog bite lawsuits. They may attempt to claim that you taunted or struck the animal before it attacked. A qualified dog bite lawyer can refute these baseless claims.

Injuries You Could Sustain After a Dog Bite

Dog attacks can lead to a wide range of injuries. Some of these injuries are relatively moderate, while others can be debilitating or even fatal.


One of the worst dog bite injuries imaginable is disfigurement. Bites may leave unsightly, permanent scars that never truly heal. Even with stitches and innovative medical treatments, dog bite victims may be left with lasting blemishes across their face and body. A facial dog bite scar can be particularly problematic, causing various psychological issues for survivors.

Disfigurement is a non-economic damage, and you may receive considerable compensation for this life-altering injury. You may use this compensation to pay for various treatment options, including reconstructive surgery and psychological counseling.

Fall-Related Injuries

Dogs can easily knock victims over, potentially causing a range of fall-related injuries. These include fractures, sprains, strains, contusions, and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Elderly individuals may be especially vulnerable to debilitating hip fractures caused by dogs.

Crushing Fractures

According to the World Animal Foundation, some of the strongest dog breeds can generate bite forces of well over 700 pounds per square inch (PSI). Breeds with particularly strong jaws include the Kangal, the Cane Corso, and the English Mastiff. Keep in mind that most bones in the human body break under pressures of about 100 PSI – and even relatively “weak” dogs can cause crushing fractures with their jaws. After biting a leg or arm, a dog may continue to exert pressure until the bone breaks.


Many victims immediately worry about rabies after dog bites – and for good reason. Rabies causes aggressive behavior in dogs – increasing the chances of attacks. If not treated immediately, rabies can lead to a range of serious health issues.


Even a shallow dog bite can become infected due to bacteria. Infections can lead to serious complications which may prove life-threatening. In severe cases, doctors may even be forced to amputate infected limbs.


The most tragic dog attacks end with death. Although seniors and children may be particularly vulnerable, anyone can die from a dog attack. If the dog manages to sever a main artery or the jugular, the victim may quickly bleed out.


Even if a dog bite does not lead to permanent scarring, it may still cause serious lacerations. These are some of the most painful injuries one can endure, and they may take months to fully heal. This can lead to thousands of dollars in missed wages, medical expenses, and other damages. Dogs can cause lacerations with their claws or their teeth.

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As former insurance defense lawyers, personal injury attorneys Deme Sotiriou and Tom Wilmowski of Sotiriou Wilmowski pride themselves on using their inside knowledge of the insurance industry to obtain maximum value — and often more — for their clients.

After a Bite from an Aggressive Dog

If an aggressive dog bit you, there are several steps to consider taking as quickly as possible. While some of these steps are more important than others, each one can help you pursue positive outcomes with confidence. Speak with a qualified dog bite attorney for information about the exact steps you should take.

Medical Attention

The most important step after a dog bite is to seek medical attention as quickly as possible. Do not hesitate to call 911, even if you believe that you have suffered minor injuries. Your dog bite could be much worse than you realize, and it is always best to play it safe.

Reach a safe location and wait for first responders to arrive. If the dog is chasing you, consider climbing onto a raised platform – such as a dumpster or vehicle. If possible, get inside a vehicle or residence and close all doors.

You may decide to drive yourself to the nearest hospital instead, and this may be the most logical course of action. After you arrive, accept all treatment and try not to worry about medical bills.

Your dog bite lawsuit can provide you with compensation for all necessary medical treatments. Follow the guidance of your doctors, and request a rabies shot if they do not offer it to you. Even if the dog was not frothing at the mouth, you could still become infected with this disease.

Medical attention not only ensures positive health outcomes, but it also helps you document your injuries. Doctors and nurses will add entries to your medical records, and you can use these records to prove the existence of your injuries. If you fail to get medical treatment, the defendant may attempt to claim that the dog bite never occurred.


Do your best to document all of your experiences after a dog attack. If it is safe to do so, use your phone to film the aggressive dog. After retreating to your vehicle or another safe place, you might film the dog barking and scratching at your window. You should also take photos or videos of your injuries after the attack if possible – but not if it interferes with your safety or medical treatment.

After your condition stabilizes at a nearby hospital, continue to document the various stages of your treatment. Consider filming an audio or video diary entry to explain your experiences in more detail. Communicate any psychological trauma, pain, or discomfort – and continue these diary entries over the next few days if possible. A smartphone is an excellent evidence-gathering tool right at your fingertips – and you might as well take full advantage of this technology.

Animal Control

When you have a spare moment after the attack, consider calling animal control. The aggressive dog may injure more innocent people, and you could prevent further incidents by reporting the attack as quickly as possible.

Police Report

If you haven’t called the police yet, it may be time to do so. If your condition has stabilized at a hospital, you can call the non-emergency line and report the dog attack. The resulting police report may prove useful as you pursue legal action over the next few weeks and months.

Contact a Qualified Dog Bite Lawyer in Missouri

Now that you understand more about dog bite lawsuits in Missouri, it’s time to take the next steps toward justice. A dog bite lawsuit can provide you with the compensation you need to deal with psychological trauma, lasting health issues, and anything else you have been forced to endure.

Although taking action may seem daunting, a lawsuit could be much easier than you realize. Most lawsuits never reach courtrooms, and your dog bite lawyer can negotiate on your behalf for a private settlement. Perhaps most importantly, your decision to sue could save other innocent people from future dog bite attacks.

A free consultation with Sotiriou Wilmowski gives you a chance to ask questions, voice concerns, and receive targeted legal advice. From there, you can decide whether to move forward and seek compensation. To learn more about your legal options, reach out and book a consultation today.

Dog Bite Lawsuit FAQs


Who can be held liable for a dog bite?

After a dog bite, plaintiffs can hold various parties liable. The most obvious defendant is the dog owner, whose failure to control the animal may have led directly to injuries. However, plaintiffs may also sue property owners and landlords for these attacks. This may prove beneficial in many scenarios, as many dog owners lack the necessary funds to cover damages.

How do I file a dog bite claim?

The most obvious way to file a dog bite claim is to contact a dog bite lawyer for assistance. With their help, you can file a dog bite lawsuit in the county where the injury occurred. From there, you can move forward with negotiations or litigation as you pursue compensation.

What is the timeline for filing a claim?

Generally speaking, you should file your dog bite lawsuit as soon as possible after the incident. That being said, Missouri has a rather generous five-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims – giving you plenty of time to take action.

What to do after a dog bite injury?

Medical attention should be your first priority after a dog bite injury. It always makes sense to prioritize your health, even if you emerged from the encounter relatively unscathed. A minor bite can still become infected, and you may even develop rabies if you’re not careful. Medical attention not only ensures positive health outcomes, but it also creates medical records that you can use as evidence in a lawsuit. After your condition stabilizes, report the incident and contact a dog bite lawyer.

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