Dog Bites Increase During the Summer

During the summer there is a natural increase in the number of dog bites. There are many reasons why we generally see a rise in dog bites, but more often than not this is simply because more people are outside and walking around. Parks tend to be a place where many dog bites happen. With children running around yelling and playing with unfamiliar dogs, a dog can become excited and bite or even get aggressive and inflict injuries.

Dog Bite Statistics

Dogs are very much a part of the family. There is a reason for the statement that a dog is mans best friend, and this is because dogs are usually very loyal and caring creatures that are often times truly considered to be a member of the household. However, even though dogs are very common and for the most part friendly, they, like people, can become violent. According to the article Emergency Department Visits and Inpatient Stays Involving Dog Bites, 2008, by Laurel Holmquist, M.A. and Anne Elixhauser, Ph.D., Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD., November 2010. Each day, about 1,000 U.S. citizens require emergency care treatment for dog bite injury.  In addition, many of these dog bites result in hospital visits and stays, The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality published a study in 2010 showing that the number of Americans hospitalized for dog bite injuries almost doubled over a 15-year period. The study found that the average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay was $18,200, approximately 50 percent higher than the average injury-related hospital stay, and there were 4 times as many dog bite-related ED visits and 3 times as many hospitals stays in rural areas than in urban areas.

Every Dog Gets His Bite

There are many theories of liability throughout the country for dog bites, and there are many sad news stories about people being severely injured by dogs. However, there is no uniform rule for dog bites and holding a person liable for a dog bite can vary depending on where you are in the country, and even in the state of Arkansas.

Arkansas has long followed the theory of liability that when a person is injured by a domestic animal legally permitted to run at large by its owner, in order for the injured person to recover damages from the owner without the necessity of proving the owner’s negligence, it must be shown that the animal has vicious tendencies or dangerous propensities and that the owner knew, or should have known, of such tendencies or propensities… The evidence as to the owner’s knowledge boils down to a question of credibility and this too is a question for the jury. HAMBY v. HASKINS, 630 S.W.2d 37 (1982). This idea has sometimes been referred to as the One Bite Rule.

The “one bite” rule received its name because, in order to hold a person liable for an injury as the case mentioned above states, the owner has to know of the animals vicious tendencies. This is often proven through evidence that shows that the dog has bitten someone in the past. However, a previous bite isn’t required to hold a dog’s owner liable, as long as evidence of aggressive behavior from the dog and evidence of the owner’s actual or constructive knowledge is present.

However, this theory of liability is not the only theory of liability that a person can use if they have been injured by a dog bite. An injured person may also rely on negligence. In a negligence case, the injured person must show that the dog’s owner had a duty to use reasonable care in how they handled or controlled their dog, — it should be noted here that this rule applies to all domestic animals and not just to dogs. The injured party then must show that the owner breached their duty, and this resulted in injuries.

Benton County Dogs Don’t Get a Free Bite

However, it is important to note that just because the Arkansas Legislature has not held dog owners strictly liable for the injuries their animals inflict certain communities and counties in the state have their own laws, which impose strict liability on a dog owner. Notably, Benton County has imposed its own theory of liability for dogs and their Ordinance states:

Sec. 10-2. – Liability of owner for property damages and injuries caused by animal.

(a)    The owner of any animal or the parent or legal guardian if the owner is a minor is liable for property damages and injuries inflicted by his animal, while off the owner’s property, whether or not such animal has been declared dangerous or vicious.

This means that even if an owners dog has not shown any vicious or violent tendencies in the past, the owner can still be held liable for any injury that the animal inflicts.

Contact an Arkansas Dog Bite Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation

If you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog, then contact Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer Ken Kieklak. We understand that you have enough to worry about due to your severe injuries and can handle every aspect of the personal injury litigation process. We can negotiate with the insurance company, gather evidence, and build a case to secure the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free, private consultation call us at (479) 316-0438 or contact us online today.