While there is still no state wide ban on dangerous breeds of dogs in Mississippi, dog attacks still take place on a regular basis. Most dog attacks tend to be on young children who don’t always have the common sense or experience to keep away from a strange dog or one that is behaving aggressively. However, even adults can be badly attacked, leaving nasty wounds and scars. It took two trials and four years to convict Eric ‘Pinky” Hodges of manslaughter after his pit bull terriers maimed and killed two men in Benton County. The dogs were loose at the time of the attack.
Pit bull terriers are arguably the worst of the breeds of dogs for dog bites, but there are plenty of dog owners and animal rights groups that oppose outright bans on certain breeds. In Mississippi, 29 cities have laws that ban dangerous breeds of dogs, including pit bulls, or have bans on pit bulls specifically. In Jackson, attempts to ban the breed have failed in the recent past, a ban opposed by dog control officers in the city as well as dog owners.
You can’t really blame a dog if it bites or viciously attacks someone it doesn’t know. Despite domestication, dogs are still naturally territorial predators and are loyal to those it considers their “pack.” Attacks on owners or the children of owners do occur occasionally, but are not common. Most attacks occur when a dog is unleashed or unrestrained and attacks someone passing by. It is the dog owner’s responsibility to restrain the dog, especially if he or she knows that their dog could attack someone.
Mississippi dog bite laws allow dog owners a chance to avoid punishment or legal action
If you, or a member of your family, have been attacked and harmed by a dog in Jackson, you may have the right to take legal action against the dog owner. Because of a lack of a city wide ordinance, you would have to rely on Mississippi’s rather antiquated dog bite law. Mississippi belongs to that group of states that still have what is colloquially called the ‘one bite law.’ This means that you cannot sue a dog owner unless he or she knew that their dog was dangerous.
If there is a public record that the dog that attacked you has already attacked someone else previously and the dog’s owner knew about it, then you have good grounds to file a claim against the dog owner. The problem arises when the dog owner claims that to his or her knowledge that the dog had never attacked anyone before. Is he or she telling the truth? Dog owners tend to have a rosy view of their dogs and find it hard to believe that their loving pet could ever attack another person, even when it has happened before.
Grounds for claiming compensation after a dog attack
You have grounds for claiming compensation after a dog attack in or around Jackson if you can prove that the dog had already had a record of an attack and you haven’t provoked the dog in any way yourself. You have a much better chance of proving that the dog attack was the dog owner’s fault if it attacked you when unleashed or unrestrained in a place where dogs are supposed to be on a leash, such as in a public park or sidewalk. One common problem with dog attacks is when the dog owner has left his or her dog off its leash and it is roaming around when the attack takes place. This puts you in the more difficult position of identifying which dog it was and then finding out who exactly the dog was owned by.
A successful personal injury claim should include all medical costs incurred, lost earnings if you have had to recover away from work, an amount in compensation for the pain and suffering experienced as well as punitive damages if the dog owner can be proven to have been particularly negligent.
Because of the grey area that surrounds dog bite legislation in Mississippi and Jackson in particular which doesn’t have any bans on particular dog breeds, you are advised to get legal help before filing a claim against a dog owner after an attack. Make an appointment with the Diaz Law Firm to discuss a possible personal injury claim. You can contact the office at 601-607-3456.