Posted on: Mar 10, 2021

arkansas dog bite law

When man’s best friend turns out to be less than friendly, there can be serious consequences.

Harris Law Firm helps injured dog bite victims throughout the state of Arkansas find relief through legal remedies. 

Arkansas Dog Bite Laws 

The rules for Arkansas dog bite laws can be complicated because there is no state-wide statute that defines the standard rule for dog bites.

Each city or county has the ability to designate its own dog bite and leash law ordinances. Where it may be negligent to have a dog off-leash in some areas, it may not be in others. 

Some counties may have a “strict liability” ordinance, which is used when no finding of fault can be placed on the dog owner for the dog bite. When strict liability is not available, the “one bite” rule applies.

One Bite Rule

The one bite rule in Arkansas is also considered “scienter,” which is the latin word for “knowingly.” If an owner had reason to know that the dog had dangerous tendencies to attack, or displayed aggressive behavior, they may be liable for the dog bite.

This is the default rule that applies in Arkansas unless a city or county has a more strict ordinance. But proving that the owner had prior knowledge of aggressive behavior is often difficult. 

Negligence Per Se

Where there is an ordinance stating regulations for dogs, such as leash laws, a victim may be able to bring a personal injury claim for their injuries under the negligence per se doctrine. 

Personal injury cases are handled in civil court and require that the defending party have acted negligently. When a law or ordinance requires certain conduct and someone fails to comply, the law will view the failure as proof of negligence.

In the case of a leash law, for example, the law imposes a duty on the dog owner to control the animal by means of a leash. If they fail to do so, then they breach their duty. And if a dog bite or attack occurs as a result, the victim may be able to recover compensation on the legal theory of negligence per se.

Criminal Class A Misdemeanor

Arkansas dog bite laws do not have an actual civil statute outside of personal injury negligence, but the state does have a criminal dog bite statute. Arkansas Code section 5-62-125 states that it is a Class A misdemeanor to negligently allow a dog to inflict injury or death.

A judge or jury may order the defendant to pay the victim’s medical bills as restitution if they are convicted. However, unless you file a civil suit of your own, you will not be able to recover for additional damages, like pain and suffering.

Although restitution payments can take some of the ache out of your wallet, it does not make up for any emotional damage that may have occurred or any additional hardship. 

How Should Arkansas Dog Bite Cases Be Handled?

Depending on the circumstances of the dog bite and the seriousness of your injuries, you may have multiple options to receive compensation. One of the biggest obstacles to overcome will be proving the circumstance of the injury and that the owner of the dog was negligent.

That’s why it’s important to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible following the attack. Your lawyer can help you understand your options and seek fair compensation on your behalf. They can also help you gather all the evidence necessary to prove your claim.

Types of Compensation for Dog Bites in Arkansas

Filing a personal injury case opens up options for both economic and non-economic recovery. Economic damages may cover actual costs such as medical treatment, property damage, loss of wages, and other expenses associated with the injury.

Non-economic damages are harder to prove, but are very relevant to your experience and what you deserve. These damages may include pain and suffering, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, and other non-monetary aspects of the injury that impact your quality of life. 

What to Do After a Dog Bite or Attack

Being attacked or bitten by a dog can have serious consequences, and it is important to act quickly. It is difficult to do everything correctly in the heat of the moment, but these are some important steps to take:

  • Acquire the contact information of the dog owner;
  • Notice if there were witnesses and get their information as well;
  • Take photos of the injuries;
  • Call the police or emergency medical personnel if necessary;
  • Receive immediate medical attention;
  • Do not admit fault or accept any settlement offers;
  • Request vaccination records for the dog; and
  • Contact an experienced Arkansas dog bite law attorney.

It is important to have a complete understanding of the extent of your injuries, both physical and emotional, prior to making any decisions on how to proceed. You have up to three years to file a claim for relief, but the sooner you can act, the stronger your case will be. 

Contact an Arkansas Dog Bite Attorney

Depending on where the incident occurred and the circumstances surrounding the attack, you may have several options for relief.

The experienced personal injury lawyers at Harris Law Firm will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for your free case evaluation.

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