Having a dog can be an experience filled with fun, love, and a lot of learning. Your dog offers you unconditional love and affection in return for your care, and they can even offer you protection in a dire situation. Unfortunately, there are some stressful sides to owning a dog. Depending on the situation, you can be held liable for your dog biting and injuring a person or another animal.
You’ve probably seen “beware of dog” signs on other people’s properties before, but do they help you legally if your dog attacks someone on your property? Whether they were invited or a trespasser, let’s look into the liability surrounding your dog biting a person or animal on your property, and if not having a sign to make others aware of your dog has legal ramifications in Mississippi.
Do You Need a “Beware of Dog” Sign?
You might think that some dogs are more dangerous than others, but really, any dog can bite if they feel threatened. Rather than only listing a specific breed in our state legislation, Mississippi House Bill 1261 cites “dangerous dogs” as:
- Any pit bull dog that is a purebred or mixed breed of American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, or American bulldog.
- Any dog, regardless of breed, that has shown a propensity, tendency or disposition to make or attempt an unprovoked attack.
- Any dog that bites when unprovoked and causes injury to a person or domestic animal on public or private territory.
- Any dog that chases a person on public or private property in a terrorizing manner and has an attitude of attack.
- Any dog that is owned for dog fighting or is trained for dog fighting.
HB 1261, otherwise known as the Mississippi Regulation of Dangerous Dogs Act, outlines the necessary actions that owners of dangerous dogs must take in order to avoid legal ramifications. In short, you do need a “beware of dangerous dog” sign posted in a prominent place on your property if your dog falls under the dangerous dog description of the bill. But that’s not all you have to do to be in accordance with the bill—you also must:
- Keep the dog securely confined on your property.
- Keep the dog on a strong leash no longer than three feet and muzzled if leaving your property.
- Never tether the dog’s leash to an inanimate object, like a tree, unless the object is in a secure closure.
- Never keep the dog on a porch or patio or place in a home where the dog could escape.
Not following these guidelines is considered unlawful. You could face a fine between $100 and $1,000 and could be imprisoned between 10 days and 3 months. If the dog causes the death of a person or serious bodily injury to a person under 18 years old, the owner would be guilty of a felony. They would face a fine between $1,000 and $5,000 and be imprisoned between one and five years. The dog would also have to be euthanized.
Mississippi Dog Bite Liability
If the dog is considered dangerous and has bitten a person in the past unprovoked, then the owner must carry liability insurance for the animal. As a dangerous dog owner, you must have a personal liability insurance policy with a $100,000 single incident amount to cover bodily injury, death of any person, or property damage caused by the dog.
It is important to note, according to the bill above, that a dog cannot be considered dangerous if:
- The dog caused an injury to a person who was trespassing, committing a tort crime, or attempting to commit a crime.
- The trespasser or criminal was teasing, abusing, or assaulting the dog.
- A domestic animal was tormenting or abusing the dog when it attacked.
- The dog was protecting its owner from an unjustified attack or assault.
Contact Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law
Filing a personal injury claim can be difficult and confusing on your own. Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law will support you through your case and ensure that your rights are protected against the person responsible for your injury. As your Biloxi injury lawyer, Corban Gunn will hold the liable party accountable for their actions and help you recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Contact our office today so we can start discussing your legal options.