Every day about one thousand (1000) people are treated in American emergency rooms for injuries related to dog bites and according to insurance statistics, dog bites account for roughly one-third (1/3) or all homeowner policy claims. Dogs are fun, lovable creatures most of the time if they are trained right, but who should pay when man’s best friend attacks? Damages from dog bites can include medical expenses for stitches, hospitalization, and even plastic surgery. This post examines Arizona law and discusses options for anyone attacked by a dog.
Arizona is a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bites. This means the dog owner is liable for any injuries caused by the animal even if he or she did not know the dog was dangerous beforehand. Many states have a “negligence” standard regarding owner liability for dog bites, meaning the owner had to be aware of the animal’s dangerous proclivities in order to be held liable. In Arizona, this is not the case and even if a dog has never shown aggressive tendencies before, the pet owner will be held liable for the attack.
In Arizona there are two defenses available to a pet owner whose dog has bitten and injured someone. The first available defense is showing the dog was provoked into attacking. Provoking an animal can come via taunting, agitation or physical contact, such as poking an animal with a stick. If a reasonable person would conclude the dog was provoked, the owner will not be considered liable for any injuries. The second defense available to pet owners is trespassing. If the person bitten was unlawfully trespassing, there will be no liability for a dog bite.
Statute of Limitations
The deadline for filing an Arizona dog bite case in court is two years from the date of the bite. The best policy however is to file a claim with the applicable insurance company or put the dog owner on notice of a pending claim as soon as possible after the incident.
Anyone suffering injuries from a dog bite deserves full compensation for their injuries. Getting a cost free consultation with a qualified personal injury attorney like ours experienced in handling dog bite claims is an essential step toward being made whole. Nobody wants to be attacked by a dog, but if it has happened in your family, help get piece of mind and protect your rights by hiring the right lawyer.