Homeowner’s insurance exists to help reimburse people who are injured on another person’s property. The compensation available generally depends on the homeowner’s specific policy, but insurance should generally should pay for dog bite injuries.
If you or a loved one has suffered personal injury on someone else’s property in a premises liability accident like a slip and fall accident, or for something like a dog bite, our attorneys may be able to help. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, represents injured people throughout Arkansas and fights to get them the compensation they need to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering for accidental injuries.
Arkansas Dog Bite Law
Arkansas has no statewide rule on dogs that will help you recover for injury. In some states, there are laws regarding animal enclosures, collars, leashes, and other ways of controlling potentially dangerous dogs. In those states, violation of those laws can be used as evidence of “negligence per se.” This makes proving a dog bite injury case much simpler. However, while Arkansas has no statewide dog leash or fence rules, local or city governments may have their own rules that allow you to claim negligence per se.
In a typical negligence case, you must prove the following four elements to collect compensation for your claim:
- The defendant owed you a duty;
- The defendant breached that duty;
- Because of the breach, you were harmed; and
- You suffered specific harms a court can redress (called “damages”).
If there is a statute or ordinance that requires dog owners to use a leash, cage the animal, or warn passersby and guests about the dog, it can help you prove the first two elements. Negligence per se means that breaking a rule is sufficient to show the first two elements – duty and breach.
Arkansas does have a statewide criminal law regarding dog bites. This makes it a crime to allow a dog that the owner knows to be dangerous attack someone. If the owner was so negligent that they violated this law, you might be entitled to restitution through the criminal courts. However, this compensation might not be sufficient to cover your injuries, especially since it is unlikely to include damages for your pain and suffering.
Taking the dog owner to court might entitle you to further compensation that insurance or criminal restitution would not cover.
Homeowner’s Insurance Might Cover Dog Bites
Dog bites actually account for over a third of all homeowner’s insurance claims, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). In 2016, there were about 18,123 claims, nationwide, for dog bite injuries. This means you can rest assured that, at the very least, homeowner’s insurance should pay for some of your injuries if you are bitten by someone else’s dog on their property. However, just because insurance covers the situation does not mean you will be covered in every case.
First, the homeowner must have insurance in the first place. Sometimes, homeowners may allow their insurance to lapse because of non-payment or other reasons. Alternatively, they may rent their house or apartment and do not carry renters’ insurance. Second, the bite must actually occur on their property. If someone’s dog bites you off their property, on the street, or at another person’s house (or your house), insurance might not cover it. In this case, you may need to resort to other forms of compensation.
If insurance will not cover injuries or does not cover enough of the compensation, you might need to sue the dog owner in court. While insurance may compensate medical expenses and some of your wages if you were unable to work while recovering from your injuries, it may not cover enough. One of the largest parts of damages is usually compensation for pain and suffering. These damages are separate from compensation for medical bills and are based on your personal experience of your pain and the mental suffering associated with injury. These damages might only be recoverable through a lawsuit.
If the injury did not occur in a place or a way that insurance covers, you might have no way of seeking recovery except to take the dog owner to court. If the dog injured you on your own property or on the street, suing the owner might be your best chance for compensation. Alternatively, if the dog was ordered to attack you, insurance might not cover an intentional injury.
Be sure to discuss insurance settlement offers with a lawyer before you accept, to make sure that you are getting all the compensation you might be entitled to.
Arkansas Personal Injury Attorney
Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, may be able to help you get the compensation you need after dog bite injuries. If you or a loved one was injured in a dog bite or any other accident, contact our Arkansas personal injury attorneys today. Call (479) 439-1843 today for a free consultation on your case.