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. The chance of biting and seriously biting a small child or baby is even more likely. The question is whether anyone can sue the dog owner if they are injured by the dog. The answer is yes and no.

Yes. The dog attack victim can sue the dog owner under certain conditions in Mississippi.

There is no specific statute in Mississippi as there is in other states that makes a specific ruleing 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 proved 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.

Mississippi’s legal stance on dog attacks or dog bites is sometimes referred to as the “one bite” rule, even though there is no statute in Mississippi that actually has that name or description. The one bite concept actually comes from English common law and dates back to a time when stray dogs, like many other domestic animals, used to roam freely around in England. The law, at the time it developed, was that if the dog had been known to have bitten beforehand, then its owner could be regarded as liable if it bit someone again. Dog bite campaigners in Mississippi and other states in the U.S. make the point that the U.S. in 2017 is radically different from medieval England; hence the rule should be changed.

In fact, as common law determines whether a lawsuit is possible, past cases in Mississippi are at present important in determining liability. The one case that is often quoted in dog bite incidents in this state is the 1973 Poy vs Grayson case. In this case, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that liability could not be determined unless it could be shown that the dog owner knew that his or her dog was potentially dangerous or had bitten or attacked someone before.

No. A lawsuit is not likely to be successful unless negligence can be proven

In many other, but certainly not all states, strict liability laws make any previous one bite ruling obsolescent. This means in states like California, for instance, if a dog bite or attack takes place, the dog owner cannot escape liability by claiming that he or she was unaware that the dog could be aggressive and attack someone. This puts the responsibility for dog attacks fair and square on the dog owner and makes it a lot easier for dog bite victims to sue the owner for injuries.

A lawsuit, even in a strict liability state (and remember that does not include Mississippi), cannot succeed if the victim provoked the dog or entered private property where the dog was without permission.

Legal action is possible if you are attacked by a dog. Talk to an attorney

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 or around Jackson and you have evidence that the dog had a reputation for aggressive or dangerous behavior, or was of its leash in a public area where leashes were mandatory, you should contact the Diaz Law Firm 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. The Diaz Law Firm provides free consultations and has a no win no fee policy. Contact them at 601-607-3456.