Can you sue a dog owner after a dog bite attack in Mississippi?
Dogs can be unpredictable. Even when an owner thinks that his or her dog is a “friendly” dog, it can still attack and bite a stranger, friend, or family member. Being injured by a dog bite can happen anywhere. So, can someone sue a dog owner if they are injured by a dog bite? The answer is: it depends.
There is no specific statute in Mississippi as there is in other states that make a specific ruling on dog bites or dog attacks. Dog attacks come under more general rules of negligence. If the victim and his or her attorney can prove that the dog owner was negligent in some way, then a lawsuit may be successful. Negligence may be proven in a number of different situations:
- The dog was released from its leash or allowed to run free in a public area where dogs were either forbidden or at least required to be on a leash.
- The dog was known by the owner to have previous dangerous tendencies. This might include the fact that the dog had already attacked or bitten other people before the incident under question. It might be because the dog was of a particular breed that had a known record of being dangerous, e.g. a pit bull terrier or mastiff.
A dog attack victim’s cause of action against a dog owner is usually based on the dangerous-propensity rule. Under the dangerous propensity rule, an animal owner may be exposed to liability for an attack by his or her animal when there is proof that: (1) the animal has exhibited some dangerous propensity or disposition that the owner was aware of prior to the attack complained of; and (2) the owner reasonably should have foreseen that the animal was likely to attack someone. A previous physical attack is not always necessary to hold a dog’s owner responsible. Evidence of barking, growling, and chasing may sometimes be sufficient to put the owner on notice of their dog “dangerous propensity.”
Legal action is possible if you are attacked by a dog.
Dog attacks and dog bites can cause serious and long-lasting injuries. If you, or a member of your family, have been attacked by a dog in Mississippi and you have evidence that the dog had a reputation for aggressive or dangerous behavior, or was off its leash in a public area where leashes were mandatory, you should contact our office as soon as you can. The sooner you act after an unprovoked attack, the more likely you will be able to successfully sue the owner and receive compensation for the attack.