Dog Attacks Can Result In Serious And Sometimes Fatal Injuries

Earlier this year, both KATV and the Arkansas Times reported that criminal charges had been filed against two women linked to a fatal dog attack in Hot Springs. According to these news sources, the women have been charged with manslaughter and harboring a vicious animal. The dog attack victim was a 75-year-old woman who was out for a walk. She was brutally mauled by a mastiff-pit bull mix and died from the severe injuries she sustained. Apparently, the dog had attacked people on prior occasions. An affidavit submitted in the matter also revealed that a dog from the same litter of pups had attacked and killed a five-year-old boy several months prior to the fatal attack on the elderly Hot Springs resident.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, an estimated 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Of those persons who sustained dog bites, approximately 800,000 required some type of medical attention. Children and senior citizens are the two groups of individuals most likely to be injured by dog attacks. In 2010, a study of dog biting injuries was published by The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. This study showed that among the more serious dog attack injuries were fractures, internal injuries, crushing injuries and open wounds to the head, neck and trunk. Some dog bite injuries are serious enough to require reconstructive surgery and skin grafts. Dog bites present a significant risk of tissue infections if untreated. Unfortunately, some dog attacks produce injuries so severe that they result in the death of the victim.

Unlike some states, Arkansas does not have a specific statute pertaining to civil suits brought for injuries resulting from dog bites. In Arkansas, a dog-bite victim can seek to hold the dog owner liable for injuries if the owner had reason to know of the dog's vicious and aggressive propensities prior to the attack on the victim. Although a prior biting incident known by the dog owner would certainly help establish liability, a prior bite is not absolutely essential as long as there is evidence showing that the dog threatened a violent attack against a person on prior occasions. Another way that a dog-bite victim could hold the owner liable is in situations where the owner was negligent in failing to keep the dog under proper control when it is foreseeable that, without the exercise of control, someone might be injured by the dog.

Avoiding bites

The AVMA has compiled a list of situations when you should avoid touching or petting a dog. According to the AVMA, you should:

  • Avoid the dog if it is not accompanied by its owner.
  • Do not reach through a fence to pet a dog on the other side.
  • Do not pet the dog if it is sleeping or eating.
  • Do not pet a dog that appears to be sick or injured.
  • Avoid touching a dog if it is resting with her puppies or seems agitated about your presence around her puppies.
  • Avoid the dog if it is growling or barking.
  • Do not pet the dog if it appears to be hiding.

Seeking compensation

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog attack, you need to contact an Arkansas attorney experienced in handling personal injury cases. Cases involving a dog attack can sometimes be complicated. However, an attorney can investigate the matter and help determine what your options are for seeking compensation for any injuries you have sustained.