Picture this: your child goes over to pet your neighbors’ new dog they rescued from the pound. About thirty seconds later, you hear a scream and find your kid crying and bleeding with apparent bite marks. Or imagine you’re out for a jog (or in my case, a nice casual stroll), and the annoying Yorkie that always barks at squirrels leaves its yard and comes running at you like a rocket and attacks you—ripping apart your tennis shoes and digging its tiny razor-sharp teeth into your ankle until you are able to punt it across the lawn. You were just a victim of a dog attack and most likely entitled to legal benefits under the laws of Mississippi.
The "One Bite Rule" in Mississippi
Mississippi does not have a statute in its laws that deals with dog; instead our State follows what is known as the “One Bite Rule.” The article’s aim is to familiarize you with what the One Bite Rule is and when a dog bite victim is entitled to damages following an attack.
The One Bite rule is a legal doctrine that directly derives from English Common Law—judge-made law—where the owner of a domesticated animal would not be held liable for an attack unless the animal had attacked a person before. Essentially, an animal was given one free bite/attack before it created liability for its owner, hence the name of the One Bite Rule. Our State follows this rule to an extent. The state supreme court has added in additional protections for victims so that it is not such a strict one bite rule. In the 1973 case of Poy v. Grayson, the Mississippi Supreme Court clarified that to prove liability, a dog attack victim needs to show:
- the dog had a dangerous propensity or disposition
- the owner had notice of the dog’s dangerous propensity/disposition (more discussed below)
- the owner knew or should have known the dog could attack.
The main point in litigation of these claims is that second point—the owner’s knowledge or notice of the dog’s propensity to attack. The most obvious and easiest way to prove owner’s notice is through evidence of prior attacks. But just because the dog had never attacked a human before doesn’t mean the owner is free from liability. The owner could have been put on notice by the dog fighting with other dogs, attacking animals, growling and jumping on visitors. Further, the breed of dog can be used as evidence of propensity. Pit bulls and Rottweilers have more violent propensities than Goldendoodles and Great Danes.
Contact the Personal Injury Attorneys at ’Maggio | Thompson Today!
Victims should keep in mind that dog bites and attacks are often covered under home or renter’s insurance policies, so if you or a loved one has sustained an injury as result of a dog attack in Mississippi, contact the experienced and serious personal injury attorneys at ’Maggio | Thompson.