Dog Bite Laws in Arizona
How Does Insurance Come Into Play in a Animal Bite Case?
Animal Bites Accident Lawyer
Have you, a child, or a loved one been bitten by an animal? If so, you need a Phoenix Valley animal bite attorney who will do what it takes to ensure that you are compensated fairly for your injuries. Injuries from an animal bite can be very serious, possibly requiring hospitalization, surgical intervention, or permanent scarring to the face or other areas of the body.
Arizona law is designed to be tough on pet owners whose pets harm other people. The legal team at Lebovitz Law Group will ensure you get the compensation you deserve after an animal bite injury. We offer free, no-obligation consultations to discuss your case and counsel you about what our firm can do for you.
Dog Bite Laws in Arizona
Not neUnder Section 11-1025 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, the owner of a dog that bites another person is strictly liable for damages suffered by the person who has been bitten, so long as the person who is injured is in a public place or lawfully (one who has been invited or is a guest) in a private place. The law provides, however, that if the injured person provoked the attack, the owner may use that as a defense to a claim for damages. Under A.R.S. 11-1027, provocation hinges on whether a reasonable person would anticipate that the conduct of the injured person would provoke a dog.
Although this is a “strict liability” law, there may still be a defense (e.g. provocation) to a lawsuit for damages. Strict liability essentially means that you do not have to prove the owner of the dog was at fault as long as the statutory requirements are met. Unlike other negligence cases, a plaintiff does not need to show that the owner of the dog was negligent or engaged in or refrained from any particular behavior to establish a case. In fact, A.R.S. 11-1025 specifically says that liability is established whether or not the owner was aware of any past behavior that would indicate the dog had vicious propensities. And unlike the law in some states, Arizona pet owners do not get one “free bite” before they become strictly liable for the injuries inflicted on others by their dog, so long as the case fits into the requirements of the statute.
There are numerous situations in which a dog bite injury incident does not fit neatly into the strict liability law. Does this mean you have no case? Not necessarily. Let’s say that you are bitten by a neighbor’s dog on property owned by that neighbor; however, you were not invited onto the property, making you, as a technical matter, a trespasser. In that case, fulfill you may not fulfill the requirements for strict liability; however, you can still make a claim, and sue, based upon common law in Arizona. This may require that you prove the dog had a propensity for vicious behavior, or that the owner knew or had reason to know of its aggressiveness. Just because you cannot use the strict liability statute does not mean that you do not have a case! The attorneys at Lebovitz Law Group can evaluate whether your dog bite situation fits the strict liability statute, and what other laws you can use if it does not.
Statutes of Limitation in Arizona Dog Bite Cases
A statute of limitations, in civil cases, sets a time limit for when you can file a lawsuit regarding a particular claim. Most personal injury cases must be filed within two years from the date the cause of action accrues, whether it involves a car accident or other negligent behavior. Generally, this is also true for injuries sustained as the result of a dog bite under Arizona common law.
However, claims made under the strict liability statute (A.R.S. 11-1025) are different. The Arizona legislature determined that the statute of limitations should be different and shorter for strict liability actions than for those under common law. A.R.S. 12-541 expressly provides that when the liability is created by statute, an action must be commenced within one year from the date of the accrual of the cause of action. A cause of action generally accrues on the date you suffered the injury. This means you usually have one year after your dog bite injury occurs to file a lawsuit under the strict liability statute.
The important thing to recognize is that legal issues in dog bite cases can be complex. If you do not have the right lawyer at your side, you could lose whatever claim you have by failing to pursue it in a timely fashion.
How Does Insurance Come Into Play in an Animal Bite Case?
You may be wondering how insurance plays a role in animal bite cases. Millions of people are bitten by animals each year, and many claims (and lawsuits) are filed on behalf of the people who are injured. Liability for animal bite injuries is often covered under homeowners insurance or renters insurance. Industry statistics indicate that as many as one-third of all homeowner liability claims are for injuries sustained as the result of dog bites.
What does this mean for you? On the plus side, it usually means the presence of an available source of funds to compensate you for your injury. But it also means that at one point or another, an insurance adjuster will be involved in the case. Negotiating with insurance companies is not easy, and it should not be undertaken on your own. Insurance companies are interested in their bottom line, and for them, negotiating your case is a “zero-sum” game. This means that for every dollar they pay you, that’s one less dollar on their bottom line. The goal of the insurance company will always be to minimize your injuries and your losses, and to pay you the absolute minimum they can get away with.
In order to combat the rigid posture of the insurers, your best interests are served by having an experienced attorney by your side. This means an attorney who knows how to negotiate with insurance companies; who means business; who is experienced and knowledgeable; and who is not afraid to proceed to trial when necessary in order to protect your interests.
Dog Bite Injuries
Just under five million people in America are bitten by dogs each year. Around 800,000 of them seek medical attention, and children make up over half of those who require medical treatment for dog bites. In addition, children between the ages of five and nine are more likely to be bitten than any other age group. Hundreds of thousands of those bitten require a trip to the emergency room to deal with their injuries.
Injuries inflicted by dog bites can be devastating. Although these injuries can have a significant impact on your life no matter what age you may be, in young children, they can be particularly devastating. When children are the victims, their small size contributes to the fact that they often suffer facial injuries in these situations. Lacerations resulting from dog bites often require plastic surgery, including skin grafts, reconstructive surgery, microsurgery, dermabrasion, and others. And these wounds typically require multiple procedures to try to rectify the damage done by the bite.
Hospitalization is sometimes required after being bitten by a dog, due to the presence of open lacerations, the onset of skin infections, and other dangerous conditions. In some situations, dog bites have been known to cause bone fractures and even internal injuries. These injuries can be extremely serious, and they can require a lengthy period of treatment.
Animal Bite Attorney in Phoenix
Call Lebovitz Law Group to schedule your free consultation get the help you need when dealing with an animal bite.
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At Lebovitz Law Group, we offer free, no-obligation consultations. If we accept your retention of our firm, we will finance your case costs. We only get paid when we obtain a favorable settlement or verdict in your case, and we stand by that promise.