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Dog Bite Liability in Arkansas

Unlike many states, Arkansas does not have a state statute specifically related to liability for dog bites. There is a criminal statute that allows a victim to recover damages for medical costs. Pursuant to Section 5-62-125 of the Arkansas Code, “[a] person commits the offense of unlawful dog attack if:

  1. The person owns a dog that the person knows or has reason to know has a propensity to attack, cause injury, or endanger the safety of other persons without provocation;
  2. The person negligently allows the dog to attack another person; and
  3. The attack causes the death of or serious physical injury to the person.

If the dog owner is found guilty of this offense, then the Court or jury could order that the offender pay the victim’s medical costs.

However, there are other ways that a victim might be able to recover full compensation for the losses incurred as a result of the dog attack (e.g. medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering). There are some localities that have ordinances imposing strict liability for dog owners. Under these ordinances, the owner will be liable for damages caused by his or her dog regardless of fault.

A dog attack victim may also be able to recover damages through an action based on state negligence common law. The Courts often utilize the “one bite rule” such that an owner will be held liable in cases where the dog has previously bitten someone. Liability is not limited to second bite scenarios, though, as the Courts have held that dog owners can be liable where they have knowledge of a dog’s dangerous propensities. The Court may also hold the dog owner liable in situations where the victim can prove that the owner was negligent in the containment of the animal; particularly where the owner failed to comply with local ordinances such as a leash law.

If you have been victimized by a dog bite, you should consult with an attorney to discuss your rights and options. Our experienced attorneys can assist you in navigating the legal process and receiving the compensation that you deserve.