LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Kevin M Garrison | Sep 28, 2011

The Ultimate Arizona Dog Bite Book- A Guide For Dog Owners and Dog Bite Victims

INTRODUCTION

There are approximately 53 million dogs in the United States. While most dogs are friendly, some are not. Every year in the United States, approximately 4.5 million people are victims of dog bites. More than 300,000 people are admitted to hospitals annually for treatment for dog-bite wounds. Almost one half of all dog-bite victims are children under age 12. The insurance industry estimates that homeowner's insurance policy claims for dog bites result in insurance payments of more than $1 billion a year.

ARIZONA STATUTES

In Arizona, the law regarding dog bites is controlled by statutes. A statute is a law which is established by an act of the legislature and has been written down. The laws or statutes about dog bites are found at Arizona Revised Statutes Section 11-1001 through 11-1029.

NO FREE BITE

Many states have dog bite laws that give the dog one free bite. In a "one free bite" state, the owner of the dog is not liable for damages caused the first time the dog bites a victim unless the owner knew or should have known that the dog had a propensity for violence.

Arizonais not a one free bite state. TheArizonaStatues impose strict liability on the owner of a dog that bites a victim.

This means that even though the dog had never bit anyone before, and the owner had no reason to think the dog would bite, the owner is still responsible when the dog does bite.

However, Arizona courts have decided that when a dog bite victim was bit by a stolen dog the owner was not liable.

WHAT DO I NEED TO WIN A DOG BITE CASE?

The victim of the dog bite must show that they are in or on a public place, or lawfully in or on a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog.

Unless you warn people off of your property with signs or locked gates, you may be considered to have given “implied invitation to members of the public to approach your door on common errands", for example to speak with you or try to sell you something.

WHAT ARE THE DEFENSES TO A DOG BITE CASE?

The only defenses to a dog bite claim brought under Sections 11-1020 and 11-1025 are if the victim provoked the attack or was bitten by a dog used by the police or military in connection with certain tasks.

Conduct can be considered provocation only if a reasonable person would expect that it would be likely to provoke a dog. This is usually left for the jury to decide.

WHO ELSE IS RESPONSIBLE TO A DOG BITE VICTIM?

Dog owners or whoever is responsible for the dog at that time are held legally liable for the dogs actions. This applies whether the victim was bitten while in a public place, as an invited guest in the home, or if the victim was bit while carrying out legally assigned duties. This also applies if the dog was running loose or not on a leash.

Did you know that if you are walking your neighbor's dog and it bites another person, BOTH you and the owner can be held legally liable for the dog’s actions?

If you have kept the dog for more than 6 consecutive days, you are considered a "temporary owner" under the law.

Landlords are usually not responsible for a tenant's dog unless the landlord knows the dog is present and that it might be dangerous. This author recovered a substantial amount for a young boy that was bit by a large breed dog when the lease of the landlord contained prohibition against dogs over 40 pounds.

DAMAGES WHICH MAY BE RECOVERED BY A DOG BITE VICTIM

If a dog bite victim proves liability then the victim is entitled to be compensated for the following items:

  • The pain, discomfort, suffering, disability, disfigurement and anxiety present and future as a result of the injury.
  • Reasonable expenses of medical care, treatment and services rendered in the present and future.
  • Estimated cost of future care to treat any scars or wounds that are permanent.
  • The cost for counseling before and after the trial.
  • Lost earnings in the present or future.
  • The cost to replace damaged personal property.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.

HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE A CLAIM?

If you are a victim of a dog bite, do not wait to file a claim. You have 1 year to file under the “strict liability" statue. You have two years from the date of the dog bite to file a claim based on negligence.

If you are a victim of a dog bite attack or the parent of a child who is, it is best to consult an experienced dog bite attorney as soon as possible to.

Get medical attention and do not sign anything. Insurance companies will try to get you to settle quickly and often for less than your injuries are worth.

Collect all the evidence you can including photographs.

An experienced attorney will help you put together evidence for the case and be sure that valuable evidence is not lost or overlooked. Dog bite cases can be complicated with both the state and local laws concerning dogs. An attorney will identify all the statues which may apply to your case and under which you may file a claim.

Additional resources provided by the author

To learn more about what you should consider before buying a dog, how to prevent a dog bite, and rabies, go to the links provided below.

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