Just about any type of dog can cause serious injuries. About 30 people per year die from dog attacks in the United States. For children, dog bites are the second leading cause of emergency room visits in the country, and the injuries are often to the face. Permanent disfigurement and disability can result. Other injuries might include damage to blood vessels, muscles, nerves and tendons anywhere on a person’s body. The owners of dogs that cause injuries can be held liable for damages caused by an attack. They can even be held liable when their dog jumps up on a visitor and knocks that person down.
Montana Dog Bite Law
Montana’s dog bite statute is found at Montana Statutes section 27-1-715. It points to strict liability for the owner of a dog when:
- An injury or death was caused by a dog attack involving a bite or bites.
- The injury or death occurred within the limits of a city or town.
- The victim of the bite or bites was either on public property or lawfully upon private property.
- The dog was not provoked by the victim.
If a dog attack meets the above statutory requirements, the issue of whether or not the dog’s owner knew of prior vicious events involving the dog becomes irrelevant. That makes it a strict liability statute. Always remember that strict liability requires a bite. Without a bite, like when a dog knocks a person down and causes injuries, the victim must proceed under the law of negligence.
Outside of a City or Town
When the bite takes place outside of a city or town, the case becomes more difficult. It’s the law of negligence rather than Montana’s dog bite statute that applies. Under a negligence theory, the victim is required to show that the dog’s owner failed to use reasonable care in maintaining control over the dog. Whether the dog bit the victim, jumped up on him or her or otherwise caused injury to that person becomes irrelevant for purposes of being able to proceed against the dog’s owner.
In Montana, the owner of a dog has two defenses. Those are trespassing and provocation. If a bite occurred at a place where the victim legally shouldn’t have been, judgment can be entered in favor of the dog’s owner. Police, firefighters and mail delivery personnel are generally not considered trespassers. Section 21-1-715(2) provides that these people are lawfully on the property of another person while in the performance of their official duties. In the context of provocation, if a victim pokes the dog with a stick or puts his or her hand through a fence, it might be determined that the victim provoked the dog.
Contact a Missoula Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or your child were injured in any type of a dog attack in Missoula or any other city, town or unincorporated area, you can contact us to arrange for a free consultation and case evaluation. We’ll listen closely to you and answer your questions. After that, we’ll advise you of all of your legal options. Contact us right away after suffering any serious dog bite injury.