Monday, July 11, 2016

Dog Bites

I have litigated a few dog bite cases before.  Mississippi follows what is known as the dangerous propensity rule.  There must be “some proof that the animal has exhibited some dangerous propensity or disposition prior to the attack complained of” and “it must be shown that the owner knew or reasonably should have known of this propensity or disposition and reasonably should have foreseen that the animal was likely to attack someone.” Poy v. Grayson, 273 So.2d 491, 494 (Miss. 1973). The dangerous propensity rule falls between a one bite rule and strict liability.  An injured person does not have to show that the dog or animal has previously bitten, but the animal owner does not incur liability for any and every bite.  The injured person must demonstrate that the animal exhibited some dangerous propensity or disposition of which the owner knew or should have known for liability to attach to the animal owner.

There are actually a lot of moving parts on these type cases.  Local ordinances, the breed of the dog, and notice by the owner of the problems are just a few areas that make this a complex area to practice in.  The best way to prove liability still seems to be the local ordinances.  Most towns now have local ordinances where is the dog gets loose or is not on a leash of a certain length, the owner is in violation of the ordinance which is negligence per se. 

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