Laws relating to liability for dogs are different in each state. Therefore, owner liability for dog bites depends on where you live and which laws apply to your state. Generally, states have either adopted the “One Bite Rule” or the “Strict Liability” approach.
Arkansas’s One Bite Rule
The One Bite Rule, as the name suggests, allows a dog “one free bite” before the owner can be held liable for a dog bite injury, as long as the owner was not negligent in controlling the dog. The One Bite Rule does not protect an owner if other dog laws are being violated at the time, such as leash laws.
If the person who is injured was a trespasser at the time, the owner will normally argue that the laws that generally apply to liability for trespasser injuries should also apply to dog bites. Property owners are not generally liable for injuries to trespassers, but there are some exceptions.
One exception is when a property owner has become aware that people trespass on his or her property with some frequency. In that situation, the property owner would be expected to anticipate the dangerous condition posed even to a trespasser, and would then be required to take some action to protect the trespasser from danger. A common example of a discovered trespasser is when a property owner discovers that people routinely use their property as a shortcut to a public park. In that case, the property owner should post a sign warning of any dangerous condition on that property.
Missouri’s Strict Liability Rule
State’s that follow the strict liability rule will hold a dog owner liable for injuries caused, regardless of whether the dog has ever bitten anyone before. You are held responsible simply because the dog belongs to you. This is the most common rule.
This rule is obviously strict, because it does not matter whether you took the necessary precautions, complied with all dog laws in your state, and had no idea your dog posed a threat. Simple ownership is enough. Fortunately, the strict liability rule does offer some relief for dog owners when the person injured was a trespasser. If the person who is bitten was on the property of another without permission, either express or implied, the owner is not held responsible for the injuries under the strict liability rule.
So, the good news is, with very few exceptions, a dog owner will not be held liable for a dog bite to a trespasser. If someone was on your property without permission and was injured by your dog, contact the experienced Rogers dog bites attorneys of the Cottrell Law Office online or by calling our toll free number (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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