A lot of people in Arkansas own dogs: according to one survey, over 50% of all households have canine companions. Those in Bentonville are often seen walking their dogs along the trails or enjoying the off-leash facilities at Bark Park or Osage Dog Park.
While dogs are usually cherished companions, tragedy can still occur. A dog who is frightened, startled, or territorial may bite and inflict serious injuries. When this happens, the victim can be scarred, traumatized, and left with a lifetime fear of dogs.
In most cases, a dog owner who has failed to control their animal is legally responsible for any injuries that result. At the Law Offices of Alan LeVar, we offer compassionate representation to those injured by dog attacks. Our Bentonville personal injury lawyers know how to bring negligent owners to justice for the harm and injuries their dogs have caused. To learn more about how we can help you get the settlement you deserve, contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
Dog Bite Injuries in Bentonville, AR
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, there were 831 reported dog bites in the state in 2019. The most common victims were children aged five to nine years old. One 2018 study of 740 Arkansas dog bite victims found that 37% required emergency medical treatment and nearly 7% needed surgery. Among children, those younger than five were eight times more likely to need an operation.
These studies confirm what we already know: dog bites can cause a wide range of injuries, from minor scratches to severe and even life-threatening injuries. Some of the most common include:
- Punctures and lacerations
- Infections due to the bacteria in a dog’s mouth
- Nerve damage
- Broken bones
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional trauma
If you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog, seek medical attention as soon as possible to prevent complications, minimize scarring, and create a medical record in case you need to file a claim against the owner.
How To Stay Safe Around Aggressive Dogs
As a general rule, you should never approach an unfamiliar dog or one displaying signs of aggression, such as growling or baring its teeth. Instead, move away and give the animal plenty of space so it doesn’t feel threatened or cornered.
Other recommendations include:
- Stay calm and avoid eye contact. Dogs may see direct eye contact as a threat, so try to look away and stay calm and still.
- Do not run or scream. Doing so can trigger a dog’s chase instinct and may cause it to attack.
- If possible, put a physical barrier between you and the dog, such as a fence, a car, or a tree.
- If a dog attacks you, try to protect your face and neck, curl into a ball, and use an object like a backpack or jacket to shield yourself.
Arkansas Dog Bite Laws
Generally, a dog owner can be held liable for injuries caused by the dog, but in Arkansas, there isn’t a single statewide civil law covering dog bites and liability. Instead, some counties have their own dog bite laws.
In Benton County, for example, a strict liability ordinance makes an owner liable for any injuries inflicted by the dog, regardless of whether they were negligent or even knew of the dog’s aggressive tendencies.
In Arkansas counties without such an ordinance, most dog bite lawsuits are based on the one-bite rule, which allows a victim to recover damages from the owner if the dog bit (or attempted to bite) someone in the past and the owner was aware of it. However, even if the dog has never bitten anyone before, victims can file a claim based on the contention that the owner’s negligence caused their injuries.
It is important to note that although Arkansas does not have a civil dog bite law, it does have a criminal statute that can help dog bite victims obtain compensation for medical expenses. Arkansas Code section 5-62-125 makes it a misdemeanor to negligently allow an aggressive dog to cause serious injury or death. As a result of this criminal statute, a court or jury can order the defendant to pay for the victim’s medical expenses.
Compensation in a Bentonville Dog Bite Claim
If you are injured by a dog in Arkansas, you have the right to seek compensation for your damages. Depending on the circumstances of your case, these damages may include:
- Medical Expenses: This includes emergency room visits, hospital stays, surgery, prescription medication, and any other treatment you received due to the dog bite.
- Lost wages: If you had to miss work due to your injuries, you may be able to claim compensation for your lost wages or income.
- Disfigurement: If the dog bite left you with scarring or other disfigurements, you may be entitled to compensation for the impact on your life.
- Pain and Suffering: This includes physical pain and emotional distress caused by the dog bite, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
- Property damage: If the dog damaged your property, such as your clothing or personal belongings, you may be able to claim compensation for the cost of repairing or replacing the damaged items.
It’s important to note that the amount of compensation you can claim will depend on the specific circumstances of your case, including the severity of your injuries, the impact on your life, and the extent of the damages. Let a Bentonville dog bite attorney at the Law Offices of Alan LeVar help you navigate the legal process and maximize your compensation.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been Bitten By an Aggressive Dog?
Following a dog bite, you should take several steps to protect your well-being as well as your legal rights:
- Seek Medical Attention: If the dog bite is severe, call 911 or go to the emergency room right away. Even if the wound seems minor, it’s still important to clean it thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention to prevent infection.
- Identify the Dog and Its Owner: If possible, try to identify the dog and its owner. Get the owner’s name, address, and contact information. If there were any witnesses to the attack, ask for their contact information as well.
- Report the Attack: Contact your local animal control agency or police department to report the dog bite. They can investigate the incident and help ensure that the dog is properly quarantined and evaluated for rabies.
- Document the Incident: Take photos of your injuries and torn or bloody clothing, and keep a record of any medical treatment you receive. This documentation will be important if you decide to pursue legal action.
- Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney: If you’ve been seriously injured, it’s important to consult with a Bentonville dog bite attorney who can help you understand your legal rights, negotiate with the dog owner’s insurance company, and file a lawsuit if necessary.
How Can a Bentonville Dog Bite Attorney Help Me?
By hiring a Bentonville dog bite attorney at the Law Offices of Alan LeVar, you greatly improve your chances of recovering maximum compensation. Our attorneys are familiar with the laws that govern dog bite cases in this state and can investigate the circumstances surrounding your case, including interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence. This can help establish liability and build a stronger case for compensation.
Other benefits of skilled legal representation include:
- Your dog bite lawyer can negotiate with insurance companies and other parties on your behalf to get a fair settlement.
- If your case goes to court, a dog-bite lawyer can represent you and argue your case to a judge or jury. They can use their legal knowledge and expertise to present a strong case for compensation and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal process.
Dog bite cases are often challenged by the owner and their insurer. They may claim that you provoked the dog or insisted on approaching it after being warned about its aggressive tendencies. A Bentonville dog bite attorney will protect your rights and deter any unfounded attempts to decrease owner liability.
Questions? Get a Free Consultation From a Bentonville Dog Bite Injury Lawyer
If you or someone you love has been attacked by a dog in Bentonville, don’t let medical bills, lost wages, and the physical and emotional pain of a dog bite injury overwhelm you. At the Law Offices of Alan LeVar, our skilled attorneys have extensive knowledge of Arkansas laws and regulations related to dog bite cases. In addition, we have a proven track record of success in helping our clients recover damages for their injuries. For more information or to schedule a free initial consultation, please call (479) 202-0027 or use our contact form.