Dog Bites 101

Publishing Author : Wesley A. Cottrell

Date Published : Unknown


Each year, thousands of Americans suffer animal bites. Most often the culprits
are domesticated dogs. In many cases, the victims have a legal right to recover
for their damages. Recovery can be sought from not only the animal’s owner,
but sometimes from other responsible individuals, as well.
What to do if you are bitten by a dog
The very first thing to do, if you are bitten by a dog, is s
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What makes a dog dangerous?
There are particular breeds of dogs whose ancestry is known for aggression. At
one time, these traits might have been accepted because of the breed’s
usefulness as hunters or herders. On the other hand, some undesirable traits
come from bad breeding practices, such as breeding fighting dogs or guard dogs.
Unfortunately, there are also those owners who chain up their dogs and neglect
them, which can also lead to aggression.
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The dog bite rules in Arkansas and Missouri
In Arkansas, unlike most states, there is no specific law pertaining to liability for
dog bites. However, Arkansas has common law liability that can be enforced. If
an individual in Arkansas is injured by a dog attack, he or she can recover money
damages from the owner if negligence is proven.
In Missouri, there is a dog bite statute, passed in 2009, which imposes strict
liability on dog owners for dog bites, regardless of whether the dog bit anyone in
the past. Missouri law also allows dog bite victims to recover in cases of
negligence and negligence per se.
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Who else can be liable?
Animal owners are certainly not the only individuals who can be held responsible
for dog bites. Following are a few common examples of others who may
potentially be responsible, as well:
Animal Keepers: Anyone who is responsible for the care or custody of an
animal, including kennels, an animal shelter, or an animal sitter.
Parents of Minors: Even if a person under 18 years of age owns the animal
at issue, in many states an injured person can bring a legal claim against
the minor’s parents. This is true even if the parents had no direct
involvement with the animal.
Property Owners: A property owner can be liable for injuries caused by an
animal that the property owner allowed onto his or her property.
Landlords: If an apartment landlord knew (or should have known) that a
tenant owned a dangerous animal, the landlord may also be liable for
animal bite injuries
Potential Defenses in Dog Bite Cases
It helps to understand the types of defenses, someone responsible for the dog
may try to raise. As with nearly all other legal claims, there are certain
arguments that can be made to avoid liability. For example, one defense is that
the animal owner adequately warned others that the animal was dangerous and
took measures to keep the animal away from people, but the victim ignored
those warnings. In that situation, it is possible that the victim was “contributorily
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negligent” and that led to his or her injuries. It could also be determined that
the victim “assumed the risk” of injury by ignoring the warnings. A less common
defense is, that the injured party actually provoked the animal, such as making
threatening gestures toward the animal. This situation could possibly refute the
owner’s liability.
What Damages Can You Recover?
Dog bite cases are part of the category of legal claims known as personal injury
claims. The typically damages
that can be recovered in
personal injury cases are
medical expenses, lost wages,
property damage and pain and
suffering. The amount of
damages you are entitled to
always depends on the
seriousness of your injuries and
the amount of your out-ofpocket

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