Dog Bite Injuries

When Pets Attack: Suing for Dog Bite Injuries in Fayetteville

While dog attacks are a relatively rare occurrence, the consequences can be tragic. Despite their reputation as companions, data suggests an annual average of 43 dog bite-related fatalities in the United States between 2011 and 2021, with the numbers fluctuating between 31 (2016) and 81 (2021). 

It’s crucial to remember that these numbers represent lives lost and highlight the importance of responsible pet ownership, effective dog training, and public awareness about dog bite prevention.

In the event of an attack, constructing an injury claim might be tricky. This article will highlight key considerations and guide you if you, unfortunately, suffer a dog bite injury anywhere within Fayetteville city limits.

Untangling Arkansas’s Complex Web of Dog Bite Rules

In Fayetteville, the regulation permits only one dog per 100 square feet of living space, unlike other cities in Arkansas, where owners can have up to four dogs at once.

When it comes to dog bite laws, Arkansas can be perplexingly complex for victims seeking accountability after an attack. That’s because there is no blanket state statute clearly spelling out standards across the city. 

Instead, local jurisdictions have latitude in designating their own ordinances on issues like leash requirements and owner liability.

This patchwork of local laws means bite victims must carefully investigate the specific rules in place where the incident occurred. Some places follow a strict, no-questions-asked liability model. Others put the onus on victims to prove the owner was negligent. 

Let’s break down key concepts in Arkansas’s web of dog bite rules that victims should understand.

The Hazy “One Bite” Doctrine

In the absence of a strict statute, Arkansas typically defaults to a “one bite” or “first bite” model for bites. Here, the owner must know the dog’s violent history or have reason to expect aggressive behavior for liability to kick in. Documenting that vague foreknowledge can be an uphill battle for injured plaintiffs.

Breaking Leash Laws Triggers Presumed Negligence

In Fayetteville, animals must be kept on a leash by their owners in the park. Your dog can be off-leash at approved dog parks and Lake Wilson Park, except for aggressive and dangerous animals.

If an unleashed dog attacks, victims can argue that the broken leash law directly establishes owner negligence. This legal theory, called negligence per se, is an easier path to damages than the foggy one-bite framework.

Seeking Criminal Penalties Separate from Financial Recovery

While no overarching state civil law covers dog bites, Arkansas does classify negligent attacks causing injury as a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted criminally, owners may face court-ordered restitution, paying victims’ medical expenses.

However, victims usually need to file separate claims to fully account for emotional distress, lost work time, pain and suffering, or other costs.

The fractured collection of statutes means bite victims must carefully research local laws and pursue multiple avenues for accountability. But legal options do exist in Arkansas, no matter where an attack occurs. 

Understanding the web of liability rules and hiring a Fayetteville personal injury attorney is very important to get the compensation you deserve after a traumatic incident.

Building Your Case To Prove Your Fayetteville Dog Bite Claim

If you suffer a dog bite in Fayetteville, gathering solid documentation is the foundation for building your legal claim against the animal owner. Identifying key information quickly after an incident also allows your attorney to establish liability.

Here are some important steps to take to document your injury case:

Pinpoint the Exact Dog and Owner

If bitten by an unknown stray or loose dog in Fayetteville, make every reasonable effort to locate the animal and identify the owner. Provide the investigating animal control officer with detailed physical descriptions of identifying markers on the dog, such as color patterns, tags, or collars. 

This creates a paper trail connecting your injury to the responsible pet owner.

Compile All Medical and Treatment Records

If you’ve been bitten by an animal in Fayetteville, it’s crucial to seek immediate emergency medical attention. Head to Washington Regional Medical Center or any other local hospital to have your injuries assessed by physicians.

They will document the severity of the bite, determine any necessary procedures, and administer a rabies vaccination if deemed necessary. 

Do not forget to get copies of the visit notes, exam paperwork, and billing codes related to medicines, surgeries, or follow-up appointments. These underscore short- and long-term ailments attributable to the incident.

Photograph Wounds Regularly Over Time

Dog bites often leave disfiguring scars or slow-to-heal tissue damage. Meticulously photograph bite marks and wounds when the trauma first happens and at regular intervals throughout recovery. 

Detailed visuals prove the extent of the physical suffering endured during settlement negotiations.

Statements from Eyewitnesses Strengthen the Case

If anyone observed the biting incident firsthand, whether a bystander, neighbor, mail carrier, or other individual, document their recollection of events in a signed statement. 

Eyewitness accounts defeat the owner, who counterclaims that their dog reacted defensively to provocation. Have observers highlight specifics about any victim’s actions leading up to the bite.

Check Local Animal Control Records on the Dog

Several Fayetteville animal care services maintain reports of prior complaints, violations, impoundments, or bite incidents registered to individual dogs and addresses. Check records to uncover if the same dog menaced people previously without the owner addressing aggression issues. This undercuts the one-bite liability exemption.

According to Keith Law Group, submitting robust evidence allows your attorney to establish negligence in line with the city’s ordinances. It also paves the way for maximum financial recovery, covering all facets of physical, emotional, and financial suffering after a traumatic dog mauling.

Overcoming Common Owner Defenses

Fayetteville dog bite victims can expect owners to claim the victim provoked the dog or assumed risk around the uncontrolled animal. Neutral eyewitness statements from bystanders are critical to refute accusations of instigation. 

Unleashed, unconfined large dogs represent a danger no reasonable person anticipates in public areas. Have a Fayetteville animal control officer testify on documented incidents tied to the biting dog being unavailable to the victim pre-attack.

Lastly, use expert analysis from local veterinarian behaviorists who can authoritatively dispel claims of unprecedented, unpredictable aggression from an otherwise gentle pet. Their testimony underscores an owner’s duty under city ordinances to control breeds and sizes capable of severe mauling. 

This limits the venue for defendants to dodge strict liability by pleading ignorance of the hazards their dog posed.

To sum up, if you or a loved one suffers bites anywhere within Fayetteville’s city limits, remember you have legal options. Arkansas imposes strict liability for dog attacks regardless of previous aggression or owner knowledge.

You take heart from the fact that in 2022, the average cost per insurance claim resulting from a dog bite was $64,555, as the Insurance Information Institute reported.

This represents a 32% increase compared to the previous year. Throughout 2022, insurance companies paid out an estimated total of $1.13 billion due to dog bite incidents.

While building a claim introduces complex legal hurdles, an experienced personal injury attorney can carefully walk victims through the process.