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Dog Bites

Over 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs every year. One in six of those bites is serious enough to require medical treatment. Children under 5 years old are 62% more likely to require surgical repair after a dog bite in Arkansas. Between the years of 2012 and 2016, there were six reported fatal dog attacks in Arkansas alone. But despite this, Arkansas does not have a statewide civil statute addressing dog attacks. That's why it is almost always necessary to seek legal assistance from an experienced dog bite lawyer in Little Rock if you're the victim of an attack.

In Arkansas a dog owner can be held liable for negligently failing to keep control of their dog. Typically this means the dog owner failed to keep the dog leashed, fenced, or penned. Most Arkansas cities have a mandatory leash law that allows a dog bite victim to use the violation of the statute as evidence of negligence.

Indeed, local laws and municipal ordinances are often what hold dog owners legally liable after a dog bite. If you've been bitten by a dog in Arkansas, not only could the animal's owner potentially be charged with a legal violation under state law, you may be able to seek financial compensation for your injuries, property losses, and mental anguish associated with the attack.

Insurance Claims are the Most Common Form of Restitution after Dog Bites in Arkansas

Most times the dog owner's homeowner's insurance will provide coverage for the injuries sustained. One common question that people ask when a dog of a friend or neighbor bites them is "Will I have to sue them?" Most of the time suit will not be necessary if an experienced dog bite attorney handles your claim. It will be necessary to provide the insurance company with all relevant facts showing the liability of the dog owner as well as the damages incurred so that a fair and reasonable settlement can occur.

However, you may have to file a civil lawsuit if you cannot get the financial compensation you are entitled to from an insurance payout.

This extra step may be necessary if:

  1. The dog's owner does not have insurance
  2. The insurance company refuses to settle your claim
  3. The insurance policy's limit is too low to cover all the expenses incurred during (or after) the attack

Regardless of which route you choose, hiring the services of an experienced dog bite attorney in Arkansas can benefit you by:

  • Maximizing the compensation for which you are entitled
  • Collecting and preserving evidence that will support your claim to get you the compensation you deserve
  • Navigating tricky state and local legislation and ordinances
  • Guiding you through the legal process and explaining each step so that you feel confident that you are making educated and informed decisions along the way
  • Handling the cumbersome paperwork and negotiating with the insurance company
  • Taking your case to court if necessary
Penalties for Dog Bites in Arkansas Vary by Municipality

While there is an overarching criminal statute at the state level concerning injuries caused by aggressive dogs, a number of counties and municipalities in Arkansas have their own legislation and ordinances on the books that can complicate the financial recovery process after you've been bitten by an aggressive dog. These local ordinances are important because Arkansas does not have a statewide civil statute concerning dog bites.

That means the laws which apply to dog bite victims in Little Rock may be very different than those which apply to dog bite victims in Fayetteville.

For example, if you're bitten by a dog in Little Rock, the city code directly addresses the issue under Section 6. This section clearly states:

  • What types of dogs can be kept within Little Rock city limits
  • The responsibilities levied upon owners of these animals

Indeed, the code even classifies a number of breeds of dog as "dangerous” breeds. This list includes pit bulls and any mixed breed animal whose characteristics are primarily that of a pit bull or Staffordshire terrier. Why Pit Bulls? According to national statistics collected in 2018, pit bulls were responsible for 72% of all fatal dog attacks in the United States.

Dangerous dogs in Little Rock can only be kept if the owner is granted a special permit and those owners are subject to additional requirements above and beyond those that non-dangerous dog owners are bound by.

Other municipalities that have similar dangerous dog ordinances or guidelines in place include:

  • Harrison, Arkansas
  • Pulaski County, Arkansas
  • Conway, Arkansas
  • Fayetteville, Arkansas
  • Jonesboro, Arkansas

Some municipalities in Arkansas actually ban such "dangerous" breeds, and even simply keeping such an animal is a violation of local ordinances. Cities in Arkansas which have dangerous dog bans include:

  • Batesville
  • Lake City
  • Mountain Home
  • Trumann
  • Salem
  • Poplar Bluffs
  • Caruthersville
  • New Madrid
Classification of "Vicious Dogs" in Arkansas

In general, a dog is determined to be "vicious" by most local laws in Arkansas when it:

  • Attacks a person, dog, or animal
  • Has repeatedly shown aggressive behavior toward a person, dog, or animal
  • Has actually injured a person or animal

The only state law that pertains to dog bites in Arkansas is Arkansas Code section 5-62-125. Under this Arkansas state law, it is a misdemeanor crime to allow your dog to bite or injure another person. Negligent dog owners can be found guilty and may be ordered to pay a fine, restitution, and could even spend up to 1 year in jail. Additionally, an owner or custodian may be held liable under a theory of strict liability for injuries inflicted if (1) the animal was of a vicious species; or (2) the animal, although domesticated, had dangerous tendencies which were known to the owner. See Van Houten v. Pritchard, 315 Ark. 688, 870 S.W.2d 377 (1994).

Have You Been Bitten by a Dog in Arkansas? Get the Legal Help You Need Now

When you need an experienced dog bite lawyer in Little Rock (or anywhere in Arkansas) call the Pfeifer Law Firm today at 501-374-4440 or contact us online for a free consultation. We can even schedule your consultation after regular business hours or on weekends to fit your busy schedule. These consultations are free. There's no obligation. You don't owe us anything unless we recover a financial award for you.