If you’ve walked through a park in your life, you’ve seen people happily walking their dogs. Many will say life is better with a pet around — and they’re usually right. What could be better than having a companion who loves you truly unconditionally and will just be there for you to play and relax? Dogs help keep us from being alone and in better shape by getting out and moving.

A hard pill to swallow for dog owners, however, is that sometimes, without warning or any red flags, a dog will turn violent in an instant and snap and bite at you or worse yet, a friend or stranger. When this happens, you’ll likely be held liable for any damages to the victim.

We will note that in Mississippi law, dogs are essentially granted one bite before any consequences occur; it is aptly named The One Bite Rule. In any event, the victim must prove that the dog was dangerous and had a history of violence, the owner knew of said violent history, and that the owner should have known an attack was imminent and prevented it. As we mentioned, some dogs may just snap one day and bite; maybe they were in a new environment or maybe they were just having a rough day for a pup. In this case, it would be difficult to prove the owner knew of any violent history.

We’d also like to note that just because a dog bit you, it doesn’t mean that you can sue the owner for damages. If you provoked the dog or were trespassing on private property, the liability (in most cases) lies with you. It is best to contact a Hattiesburg personal injury attorney to go over the details of the bite to determine if you can seek damages for your injuries, or if you would be held liable for your dog’s bite.

Below are a few instances where the dog owner will not be held liable for a dog bite in Mississippi:

  • If you provoked the dog, you essentially caused them to bite you as that is one of their only defenses.
  • If there is a warning sign posted on the property, the owner has taken the precaution to alert guests or trespassers that a bite may happen. You were warned.
  • If you are a vet and a dog bites you, because it is a risk and occupational hazard you knew was part of the job, you cannot sue the owner.
  • If you are trespassing on public or private property, you lose all right to sue a dog owner for a bite or injury; you shouldn’t have been there.
  • Police dogs are excluded, period.

If you’re a dog owner and want to ensure that you never go through a lawsuit for a dog bite in Mississippi, it is best to hire a trainer and to socialize your dog around other dogs, animals, and people. If your dog has a temper, you should purchase a non-harmful muzzle to mitigate bites, and let strangers know that your dog isn’t too friendly (no petting please).

There’s a lot to know about dog bites in Mississippi, so it’s best to speak with a knowledgeable Mississippi personal injury attorney if you’ve been bitten or if your dog bit someone. Contact our offices today for more information.