While domesticated dogs have proven themselves to be good companions to people in Missoula, the fact that they are still animals (and thus subject to animal instincts) cannot be forgotten. A dog bite can cause injuries that can cause that can leave you facing inordinate medical expenses. Given that the dog that bit you is technically the property of another, you might assume that the dog owner would then be liable for your injuries. Is that truly the case?
Some might tell you that the law recognizes a “one bite rule.” Simply put, the one bite rule allows a dog owner to escape liability when their animal attacks a person if the owner had no reason to believe that their animal had vicious tendencies (essentially allowing the dog one bite before the owner would be held responsible). While some states do indeed follow the one-bite rule philosophy, Montana is not one of them.
Per Section 27-1-715 of Montana’s Annotated Code, if you are bitten by a dog (without provocation) while in a public or private area (including the dog owner’s own property), the owner would be liable for the attack even if the dog had displayed no aggressive tendencies in the past. It is important to understand that if you are on a dog owner’s property when the incident occurs, you are considered to be there lawfully if you are there to execute a duty imposed by local law or the federal postal code, or if you have been invited on to the property. The dog owner may not be liable if you are bitten by the dog while on the property without permission; an exception might be if the owner set the dog after you while you were trying to leave.