What is the Dog Bite Law in Arizona?
Are you or your child at risk for a serious dog bite? If an aggressive dog injures you or someone you love in or near the greater Phoenix area, arrange immediately to review your legal rights and options with a Phoenix dog bite attorney.
If a dog bites and injures you or your child, what are your rights? How does the law in Arizona deal with dog bites, injuries, and liability? When should you contact a Phoenix dog bite lawyer?
If you’ll continue reading this short discussion of aggressive dogs, the law in Arizona, and your rights, you will find the answers you may need, but if a dog bites and injures you or someone you love, you will also need to contact a Phoenix dog bite attorney as quickly as possible.
What Do the Statistics Tell Us?
Every year, more than four million of us in this nation suffer dog bites. Of those victims, more than 800,000 seek medical help. Children under age twelve constitute about fifty percent of all dog bite victims. The elderly constitute the second-largest dog bite victim group.
In 2020, forty-six people in the United States died as the result of a dog attack. In 2021, that number rose to fifty-six. Dog bites can also transmit zoonotic infections that cause severe illnesses, and dog bites are the primary cause of rabies in humans.
Dog bites may also cause severe tissue and muscle damage, lacerations, and in egregious cases, permanent disfigurement. If you own a dog in Arizona, you need to know about this state’s strict liability law regarding dog bites, and you need to understand your homeowners insurance policy.
Is There a One-Bite Law in Arizona?
In states with a “one-bite” rule, you cannot sue a dog’s owner for a dog bite unless the owner was aware that the dog was aggressive because the dog bit or attacked someone previously. A victim must prove that the owner acted negligently while knowing that the dog was aggressive.
Arizona has no one-bite rule. Instead, the rule in dog bite cases is strict liability, which means that dog owners are held strictly liable for the injuries caused by their dogs. That liability is assigned whether or not the dog’s owner was aware of the animal’s aggressive tendencies.
That is good news if you are a dog bite victim in this state. You may pursue legal action to recover compensation for your medical expenses and related losses, even if you are the first person a particular dog has ever attacked or bitten.
If a Dog Bites You or Your Child, Take These Steps
If a dog bites you or bites your child, summon or seek medical attention immediately. Dog bites urgently require a medical exam and treatment. When you’ve been examined, treated, and released, promptly contact a Phoenix dog bite lawyer to discuss your right to compensation.
The injured victims of someone else’s negligence are entitled under Arizona law to recover compensation for their current and projected future medical costs, their lost wages and projected future lost wages, pain and personal suffering, and other related damages and losses.
If you claim strict liability, you have a one-year deadline (statute of limitations) to take legal action in Arizona, but if you are claiming that the dog’s owner was in fact negligent, the deadline is two years. Do not wait that long. Reach out to a lawyer as soon as you can after a dog bite.
How is a Dog Bite Injury Claim Handled?
If a dog bites and injures you in the Phoenix area, strict liability doesn’t mean automatic compensation after a dog bite injury. You’ll need to prove you were injured – with medical records – and you’ll need to prove you had the legal right to be where the incident occurred.
Even under strict liability, dog owners have several defenses they can offer against your claim:
If you were trespassing, in a restricted area, or committing a crime when a dog injured you, and the dog’s owner can prove it, the owner will not be liable.
If the victim provoked the dog, the owner will not be liable. A provocation under Arizona law is an action or behavior that a reasonable individual would consider provocative.
Do Dog Bite Claims Go to Trial?
Most dog bite claims in Arizona are settled out-of-court. Your lawyer will negotiate an acceptable settlement with the dog owner’s homeowners insurance company. Save and make copies of the receipts for your hospital and doctor bills, prescriptions, and related expenses.
If liability for a dog bite is disputed, or if the private negotiations do not produce an acceptable settlement offer, your attorney can take your claim to trial. That seldom happens in Arizona, but your attorney should be an experienced trial lawyer as well as an experienced negotiator.
At a trial arising from a dog bite injury, your attorney will explain to a jury how you were injured, how seriously you were injured, and why. Your attorney will challenge any defense offered by the dog owner and will ask the jurors to order the payment of your compensation.
Should You Call an Attorney Now?
If you’ve missed the one- or two-year deadline for filing a claim, your case may fall under one of the rare exceptions to the statute of limitations, so go ahead and contact a dog bite attorney. But if your injury was recent, or if a dog injures you in the future, call an attorney at once.
Your lawyer should speak to witnesses before their memories fade and review the evidence while it’s still fresh. If you wait and then scramble to file a claim at the last minute, your claim is less likely to prevail.
Isn’t It Expensive to Hire a Lawyer?
You can schedule a free case evaluation – without any obligation – as soon as you have been examined and treated for a dog bite injury. Injury lawyers in Arizona represent their clients on a contingent fee basis.
That means, if you move forward with legal action against the dog’s owner, you will pay no fee to your attorney unless and until that attorney recovers the compensation you are entitled to under the law – with a private settlement or a jury’s verdict.
In other words, if a dog injures you, it will cost you nothing to learn more about your rights or to begin the legal process. It starts simply by making the call to an Arizona dog bite attorney.