Many people keep pets for companionship, security, and for a variety of household and other reasons. Some parents may even purchase their child a dog or cat in the hopes that caring for an animal will help the child develop a sense of responsibility. Despite the myriad of reasons that people keep pets, most people are able to do so with minimal impact on others while still reaping the rewards of the relationship. Unfortunately, some people neglect their animals or turn a blind eye to warning signs of aggressive behavior. When a person keeps a dangerous animal, it is their responsibility to ensure that others are not injured.
Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law can fight for people who have suffered serious injury due to another person’s dangerous pet. We believe that injury victims should never subsidize another person’s careless or reckless behavior by paying the medical bills that their actions create. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with an Springdale AR personal injury attorney, call (479) 316-0438 or contact us online today.
Does It Matter if the Dangerous Animal is “Wild” or “Domesticated?”
It is generally immaterial if the animal was considered “wild” or domesticated if the owner knew or should have known about the animal’s dangerous tendencies and propensity to injure others. A person who keeps a dangerous animal in Arkansas is typically “strictly liable” for the injuries the animal inflicts. Strict liability means that, provided the legal requirements are met, you do not have to prove negligence or a “bad act.” The fact that the injury occurred at all is the basis for liability.
In fact, the Arkansas courts have long held that mere knowledge of an animal’s dangerous tendencies plus an injury is enough to impose strict liability. In Strange v. Stovall, 261 Ark. 53, 546 S.W.2d 421 (1977), the Arkansas Supreme Court found that an owner is “strictly liable for harm done by it to a third person.” Furthermore, in Finley v. Smith, 240 Ark. 323, 399 S.W.2d 271 (1966) it was established that injuries caused by a “large dog” with a history of biting or injuring other people are enough to impose liability. The court wrote, “if the owner of a dog has notice of its propensity to injure people it is immaterial that the animal is not savage but acts in good nature and playfulness.” Therefore, even if a dog or other animal is sociable and playful most of the time, this fact is immaterial if it is also known that the animal has a propensity to bite or cause harm.
Can A Landlord Be Held Liable for Allowing a Tenant’s Dog to Run Wild?
One might assume that a logical extension of a landlord’s duties and responsibilities would include reprimanding and addressing problem tenants that allow dangerous animals to run free. Unfortunately, landlords in Arkansas are not held to the same standards as they are in other states. In Bryant v. Putnam, 322 Ark. 284, 908 S.W.2d 338 (1995) the court found that the laws of Arkansas, “impose no liability on a landlord to third parties injured by a tenant’s animals; the trial court thus correctly determined that there was no duty owed as a matter of law.” Thus, in these circumstances, a landlord cannot be held liable for the actions of a third party’s animals.
However, one interesting wrinkle in Arkansas law is the fact that a landlord that does not ordinarily have a duty may create one through certain acts. For instance, a landlord who voluntarily undertakes activities concerning leashing animals or enters into a contract may create a duty that gives rise to liability. Majewski v. Cantrell, 293 Ark. 360, 362, 737 S.W.2d 649, 651 (1987). However, applying this legal principle in the context of imposing strict liability on a third party is still an unsettled issue in Arkansas.
Injured by a Dog Bite in Arkansas? Contact a Fayetteville Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured by a neighbor or other person’s dangerous animal, Arkansas personal injury attorney Ken Kieklak may be able to fight for you. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law at (479) 316-0438 today.