Gulfport Dog Bite Attorney
Filing a Dog Bite/Attack Injury Claim
Although most dogs are beloved pets, these animals can still be unpredictable. If you were bitten or otherwise injured by a dog—whether it was a trusted friend or neighbor’s pet, a stray, or an unidentified loose dog—you could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against the owner or another liable party.
Tragically, most dog bites involve children, and the consequences are frequently fatal. But for any victim of any age, healing and moving forward after a serious attack can be extremely difficult. At ‘Maggio | Thompson, LLP, we understand just how physically—and emotionally—devastating dog bites and attacks are for victims and their loved ones, which is why we provide dedicated legal representation tailored to each of our client’s unique needs. We are here for you, and we are passionate about holding negligent dog owners accountable. When you turn to our Gulfport dog bite attorneys, you can rest assured that we will do everything possible to protect your rights and maximize your recovery.
Is Mississippi a One-Bite State?
Mississippi is a one-bite state when it comes to dog bite claims. But what exactly does this mean for your case?
Generally speaking, most states follow one of two dog bite rules: the one-bite rule and the rule of strict liability. Under the one-bite rule, victims must prove that the dog owner had knowledge of or reasonably should have had knowledge of the dog’s history of biting/aggressive behavior or the dog’s propensity to bite/act aggressively, even if it had never actually bitten anyone in the past. The victim must then prove that the owner failed to take reasonable measures to control the dog and/or prevent it from causing injury in order to bring an injury claim. In this way, dog bite claims in one-bite states operate in much the same way as standard personal injury claims.
In contrast, in strict liability states, dog owners are generally always liable for bites and other injuries caused by their dogs, regardless of whether or not the owner knew or had reason to believe the dog might be aggressive and regardless of whether or not the owner took reasonable precautions to prevent their dog from harming anyone. In strict liability states, dog owners have few defenses, but two common ones include cases in which the victim was trespassing and those in which the victim provoked the dog.
Are Dog Owners Liable for Non-Bite Injuries?
In some cases, yes, a dog owner might be liable for injuries caused by their pet other than bites. Typically, these types of cases are just like any other standard personal injury claim; you must prove that the owner was negligent or acted wrongfully in some way, and this was the proximate or direct cause of your injuries.
A dog owner may have acted negligently if they:
- Allowed their dog to run free in an on-leash area, such as a public park
- Failed to provide adequate warnings regarding the presence of a dog
- Brought their dog to an area, such as a shopping center, where pets were not allowed
- Failed to properly restrain/contain their dog, despite knowing its aggressive tendencies
- Knew or should have known that the dog would bite/act aggressively
- Knew or should have known that the dog had acted aggressively (biting, attacking, etc.) in the past
For example, if you were out walking on a trail that specifically prohibited dogs and were knocked down by an off-leash dog, causing you to suffer a serious back injury and a concussion, you would likely have grounds for a claim against the dog owner, even though you were not actually bitten.
What Should You Do After a Dog Bite or Attack?
If you, your child, or your loved one is bitten or attacked by a dog, there are several things you should do immediately:
- Seek Medical Attention: It may seem obvious, but the first and most important thing you should do after a dog bite or attack is seek professional medical attention. If necessary, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room/urgent care center. Dog bites can cause extensive physical damage and may lead to life-threatening infections and other complications without the proper treatment.
- Get the Owner’s Information: If possible, locate the dog’s owner and get their information, including their name, contact information, and insurance information. Most homeowners’ and business insurance policies cover dog bite-related damages, but you may need to file a lawsuit directly against the dog owner to recover damages. The more information you have, the better able our attorneys will be to seek maximum recovery on your behalf.
- Report the Bite: You should report the dog bite/attack to the local animal control agency in your area. In Gulfport, you can report an incident to the Harrison County Animal Control office online or by phone at (228) 897-1364. If the dog is deemed “dangerous,” it may require quarantining or it may be put down, depending on the specifics of the situation. In Mississippi, dogs are labeled “dangerous” on a case-by-case basis.
- Preserve Evidence: When filing a dog bite lawsuit, the more evidence you have in support of your claim, the better. You should avoid washing or throwing out your torn or bloodied clothes, and do not repair any damaged personal property unless absolutely necessary. Take pictures of your injuries, write down everything you can remember about the attack right away, and request copies of your medical records.
- Contact an Attorney: Last, but certainly not least, you should reach out to an experienced dog bite lawyer, like those at ‘Maggio | Thompson, LLP, as soon as possible after the attack. Working with the owner’s insurance company can be extremely difficult, and you may have your claim disputed or denied. An attorney can step in and protect your rights, as well as fight for the maximum compensation you are owed for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and other damages.
At ‘Maggio | Thompson, LLP, we understand the sensitive nature of these cases. Our Gulfport dog bite attorneys are here to not only protect your rights and advocate for your best interests but also to ensure that you experience as little stress as possible during the legal process. We will handle every detail of your case so that you can focus on getting critical medical care and taking the time you need to heal.
Schedule a Complimentary Consultation Today
Our team believes that negligent and careless dog owners should be made responsible for the harm their pets cause. If you or someone you love was bitten or attacked by a dog, our attorneys can fight for the justice and fair compensation you deserve.
From our office in Gulfport, we serve clients throughout Harrison County, providing caring and compassionate support, coupled with relentless advocacy in and out of the courtroom. We do not collect any attorney fees unless/until we successfully recover compensation for you, so there is no risk in talking to a lawyer at our firm about your potential case.