Conway Lawyers for Accidental Dog Bites
As dog ownership continuously increases in Benton County and throughout Arkansas, others are placed at risk of attack and bites from these sometimes dangerous animals. Dogs can attack and injure people such as:
- Delivery persons dropping off a package or food
- Pedestrians and joggers in public spaces
- Vulnerable children who are over at a friend’s house
Dog Bites Frequently Injure Children
Children are particularly at risk from dangerous dogs. Small kids are often on the same level as the dog, and they do not have the ability to know when a dog may be getting aggravated or hostile. Children may try to pet the dog in the wrong place. Alternatively, the dog may see the child as competition for their own turf or space. Children are often bitten and injured in their face and neck, leaving serious and sometimes permanent damages.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Dog bite victims may suffer the following injuries:
- Head and neck injuries
- Nerve damage
- Tissue damage
- Eye injuries
In addition, there is often a heavy psychological toll from being attacked and bitten by a vicious animal. Especially when small children are attacked, they may be severely traumatized for an extended period of time, even being afraid to leave their homes. The financial and emotional costs of a dog attack can be considerable. Thankfully, Arkansas law allows injured dog bite victims to obtain financial compensation if certain circumstances apply.
Your Location in Arkansas Helps Determine the Legal Process
The steps that you have to take to obtain financial compensation for your dog bite injuries depend on the Arkansas county in which you are located. Many states in the country have dog bite laws on their books that make an owner strictly liable for injuries. Arkansas is not one of those states.
However, many Arkansas counties have their own laws about dog bites, and Benton County is one of them. In Benton County, the dog owner is liable for “property damages and injuries inflicted by his animal, while off the owner’s property.” It does not matter whether the animal is known to be vicious or has attacked others before.
Benton County’s law is very broad because it covers both bites and injuries inflicted by an animal chasing or charging a person. You would not need to prove that the dog bite was an accident – just that it happened.
In Some Arkansas Locations, You Need to Prove Negligence
In other Arkansas counties, you would need to prove that the dog owner was negligent. As opposed to strict liability, where the proof is that the dog bite happened, you actually have the burden of proof to show that the dog owner.
These counties adhere to the “one free bite” rule, where the owner must take extra measures to ensure your safety only after the animal has been revealed to be dangerous. However, if you can show that the owner was violating local leash laws, you may still have a chance to recover financially, even on the first bite.
Pets are usually covered under the owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. When the owner has a legal obligation to pay for damages, you would first submit a claim to their insurance company. If there is a strict liability rule, proving you are entitled to damages will be far less complicated. The dog owner may still claim that you or your injured child provoked the dog. However, this defense requires you to do something drastic to anger the animal.
Compensation in a Dog Bite Injury Case
State Farm publishes annual data on the value of dog bite claims. While settlement amounts may vary based on the state where the attack occurred, the national average dog bite settlement in 2020 was roughly $50,000. The number will continue to escalate, especially in the era of high inflation. The average dog bite settlement has already increased 60% since 2012, far faster than the rate of inflation.
While this number provides you with a frame of reference, you should not necessarily aim for this number in settlement negotiations. You should aim to be paid for the full extent of your own damages. If the dog has severely attacked you or injured a small child, the value of the claim could be considerably more.
Dog bite injuries can cause a number of unique damages to victims, including:
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Trauma and a lasting fear of animals
- Expensive plastic surgery procedures to improve the skin’s appearance
These costs can be considerable, and they add up quickly. Extensive scar revision procedures can cost around $5,000. If the dog bite victim needs multiple reconstructive surgeries, the costs will be even higher. The insurance company will try not to pay you everything that you deserve.
If your child was injured, they might deny some of the additional psychological impacts of the dog bite or attack. You have the legal ability to file a lawsuit if the insurance company does not make you a fair offer.
Call a Conway Dog Bite Lawyer Today
Regardless of what the law is, you always need a lawyer for a dog bite claim. Your amount of compensation can vary based on how well you know the insurance company process and how to negotiate. Call the lawyers at Denton & Zachary at 501-273-1695 or send us a message online to discuss your case and begin the legal process.
Dog Bite Case FAQs
Will I automatically be paid if the law is strict liability?
Not necessarily. The dog owner has a number of defenses they can still use to try to escape liability, even if the law is strict liability.
What should I do after a dog bite incident?
First, alert police of the incident, both to get an incident report and so the dog can be documented as vicious. Immediately after doing so, seek medical help.
What happens if my damages are more than the policy coverage?
You can sue the pet owner personally, and they will be liable to pay you for anything over the policy maximum.