Under Arizona Law, the victim of a dog bite or dog attack may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.
There are several ways under which an Arizona dog owner may be liable to a victim injured by their dog.
Arizona has two statutes that hold a dog owner strictly liable for injuries inflicted by their dog(s). One statute addresses dog bites by dogs within your home, on your property, or off your property but on a leash. The other statute addresses injuries inflicted by a dog “at large.” A dog is considered “at large” if it is not leashed and not within the confines of the dog owner’s property. Being “strictly liable” means that if you own the dog, you are automatically liable for injuries they may inflict on others. It doesn’t matter if the dog has never bitten before and/or never showed prior signs of aggression or violence. If you own the dog, you’re responsible … no if’s, ands, or buts.
There are only two “defenses” to a “strict liability” dog bite or attack. One is trespass (if the victim is trespassing on the dog owner’s property). The other is provocation (wherein the victim can be proven to have provoked the dog). When considering “provocation,” one must try and look at it from the dog’s perspective … would the victim’s conduct be reasonably expected to provoke the dog (hitting/kicking the dog, pulling at it’s ears or tail, trying to take away food/treats, etc.)
Claims made under the cover of “strict liability” are subject to a one-year statute of limitations, meaning that the victim has one year to either settle their claim against the dog owner or file suit against the dog owner. If the victim is under 18 years of age, the one-year statute does not technically begin to run until their 18th birthday, meaning they would have until their 19th birthday to either settle or file suit.
Claims under a theory of general/common law negligence are subject to a two-year statute of limitations, meaning that the victim has two years to either settle their claim against the dog owner or file suit against the dog owner. If the victim is under 18 years of age, the two-year statute does not technically begin to run until their 18th birthday, meaning they would have until their 20th birthday to either settle or file suit.
General negligence claims are usually pursued if a claim was not made within the one-year statue of limitations governing strict liability claims. However, claims made under a theory of common law negligence may be harder to prove. For example, one would have to prove the dog owner knew, or should have known, their dog was aggressive, had a history of aggression, or had previously bitten or attacked someone. If the dog was “at large,” one might have to prove the dog owner negligently maintained their property to have allowed the dog to escape, etc.
Claims made under common law negligence are subject to ay and all applicable affirmative defenses, such as comparative negligence of/by the victim, etc.
WHAT TO DO IF BITTEN OR ATTACKED BY A DOG AND IS YOUR CLAIM WORTH PURSUING
First and foremost, compensation for injuries arising from a dog bite or attack are dependent on (1) Identifying the dog owner, and (2) identifying a source of recovery (who can pay for your injuries?).
Identifying the dog owner may be difficult if the injuries resulted from a dog “at large” encounter. Presuming you identify the dog owner, their homeowners or renters liability insurance will usually cover your injury claim. If they do not have liability insurance, your only other option would be to negotiate a settlement with, or pursue them personally, and depending on what “assets” they may own, such a tactic may, or may not, be worth the effort.
If you are bitten or attacked by a dog, you should immediately report the incident to Animal Control in order to document the event. Hopefully Animal Control will help identify the owner and, if appropriate, test the dog for rabies.
Thereafter, you should immediately seek medical attention so as to document and treat your injuries, including a probable tetanus shot. What may appear to be simple puncture wounds can easily become infected if not cleaned and treated properly (including topical anti-biotic cream). Some injuries may warrant a plastic surgery consultation for consideration of present and/or future procedures to help minimize and/or reduce permanent scarring
The value of a victim’s injury claim will be dependent on multiple factors and/or variables, including but not limited to … the age and gender of the victim and location and severity of the injuries (residual scarring may be worth more on a female than a male, depending of the scars’ location and the victim’s age), the extent of present and/or future treatment required to treat the injuries, the cost to treat the injuries, lost income, emotional stress and anxiety, etc.
Lebovitz Law Group, can help a victim of a dog bite in Arizona by providing legal representation and assistance in pursuing a claim for damages. We can investigate the incident, identify liable parties and applicable liability insurance coverage. We can help you get proper and appropriate medical treatment, often at no out-of-pocket cost to the victim. We can help place a “value” on one’s injury claim and help to either negotiate a fair recovery or to litigate the claim in pursuit of fair compensation.
As an Arizona Dog Bite Injury victim, our legal team at Lebovitz Law Group can help you get maximum compensation from the negligent party. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t pay us until we win your case. Contact us today for a free case review.
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