Being attacked by a vicious dog and suffering a dog bite injury can change the rest of your life and the state of Arizona has strict laws in place governing dog bite accidents and dog bite claims. Under Arizona law, dog owners in Phoenix are legally liable to pay damages to a dog bite accident victim if the victim is legally on a public or private property when the attack occurs. That means you can bring a personal injury lawsuit against a dog owner in Phoenix if you were attacked in a public place, like in a park or while walking in your neighborhood, or while lawfully on another person’s property, including the dog owner’s property. If you or your child has suffered injuries in a Phoenix dog attack, do not hesitate to contact our legal team at Personal Injury Attorneys PLLC. We have years of experience helping dog bite victims recoup as much compensation as possible so they can properly recover from their injuries, and we will put our expertise to work for you in your Phoenix dog bite case.
Skilled Dog Bite Attorneys in Phoenix
Serious dog bite accidents can happen in a split second and cause debilitating or even fatal injuries, and the most frightening thing about dog attacks is that they can happen when we least expect them to. In fact, while some dog bite victims are strangers to the dogs that attack them, dogs have also been known to attack people who are familiar to them, sometimes for no apparent reason. Unfortunately, unexpected dog attacks are often the result of negligent or careless owners who fail to take the necessary steps to prevent a dog bite accident from occurring, and when this is the case, the dog bite victim may be able to recover compensation from the owner for his or her injuries and losses. The numerous legal issues wrapped up in Phoenix dog bite cases can be complex and confusing, which can make it difficult for victims to know whether they are receiving the full compensation they are entitled to. After suffering injuries in a Phoenix dog bite accident, it is imperative that you understand your rights and responsibilities as a dog attack victim so you can pursue the maximum recovery for your damages, and our personal injury attorneys can help.
Phoenix Dog Bite Injuries
We like to think of dogs as “man’s best friend,” but the truth is that dogs can be vicious when we least expect them to and when a dog bite accident occurs, the consequences can be devastating or possibly even life-threatening for the victim or victims of the attack. Even small dogs have sharp, strong teeth that can inflict serious injuries in an attack, and large, powerful dogs like pit bulls and Rottweilers can be exceptionally dangerous. People of all ages can be injured in Phoenix dog bite accidents, but the age group at the greatest risk for devastating dog attacks is children between the ages of five and nine. Some common injuries resulting from dog bite accidents in Phoenix include:
- Broken bones
- Crush injuries
- Facial injuries
- Severe lacerations
- Head and brain injuries
- Blood loss
- Muscle and tendon damage
- Neck injury
- Internal injuries
- Permanent scarring
- Spinal cord injury
- Permanent disability
- Wrongful death
Two-thirds of dog bite injuries sustained by children younger than four years of age are bites to the face, head, and neck region, which can result in the need for skin grafts, reconstructive surgery and other costly, traumatic medical care. Even with extensive, ongoing treatment, these severe wounds can cause permanent scarring and disfigurement, which can have an adverse effect on the victim for years to come. Additionally, due to the inherently violent nature of dog attacks, dog bite victims commonly suffer severe emotional trauma, which can make recovery all the more challenging.
Who is Liable for a Dog Bite?
As Arizona’s dog bite law, Section 11-1025 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, states, “The owner of a dog which bites a person when the person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of its viciousness.” In other words, if you are bitten by a dog in a public place or while lawfully on another person’s property, it is your right to file a claim against the dog owner for damages related to the dog bite, whether or not the owner knew that the dog was capable of attacking someone. Even if the dog escapes from its property and bites you without the owner being present, the owner or the person responsible for the dog at the time is still liable for the attack. The state of Arizona has a strict leash law in place, but Phoenix also has its own municipal code requiring dogs to be leashed at all times.
What if the Dog was Provoked?
Dog bite law in Arizona may appear to be relatively straightforward at first glance, but some dog bite accidents involve extenuating circumstances that can render the case significantly more complex. For instance, there are some important exceptions to the state dog bite law – if you are attacked while trespassing on private property, or if you act in an aggressive manner towards the dog or the dog’s owner or provoke the dog in some way, the owner is not legally liable for the attack or any injuries resulting from the attack. That is because provocation, which can include hitting or kicking, is a viable defense to strict liability in a Phoenix dog attack case. When considering provocation as a defense to a claim for damages against the dog owner, the court will have to decide whether a reasonable person would anticipate that the injured person’s behavior would provoke a dog to attack.
Filing a Dog Bite Lawsuit for Compensation
In some cases, dog bite claims are covered by the owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy, but these policies aren’t always inclusive. For instance, many policies only cover dog attacks that take place on the owner’s property, while others don’t cover certain breeds that have a reputation for being aggressive, like pit bulls. Unfortunately, even if the dog owner does have an insurance policy that covers the attack, getting the compensation you deserve from an insurance company is more difficult than you might think. Insurance companies generally try to pay out as little as possible for personal injury claims, and they are not invested in your well-being, which means you aren’t likely to recover the full amount you are entitled to. Instead, many dog bite victims choose to file claims of strict liability or personal injury negligence lawsuits against dog owners.
Typically, when you file a lawsuit against a dog owner for a Phoenix dog bite injury, you are entitled to any losses or damages you suffered as a result of the dog bite accident, in addition to any future losses caused by the accident, including past, current and future medical expenses, emotional pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, and permanent disability, among other damages. If the victim of a dog bite accident is killed, his or her loved ones may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit for damages, which may include lost wages, loss of future income, funeral expenses and loss of consortium.
Understanding Arizona’s Strict Liability Law
Arizona’s dog bite law is a “strict liability” law, which means you are not required to prove that the dog owner was negligent in order to prove your case, so long as you meet the statutory requirements under ARS-11-1025. Even if your situation doesn’t fit into the strict liability law, you may still have a case under Arizona common law. For instance, if you were bitten by the owner’s dog while unlawfully on his or her property, you may still have grounds to file a personal injury claim against the dog owner, but in this case, you may be required to prove that the dog was prone to vicious behavior or that the dog owner knew or should have known that the dog was aggressive. In order to prove negligence in this type of claim, you must establish the following elements:
- The defendant (i.e. the dog owner or the person in control of the dog at the time of the attack) owed you a duty of care,
- The defendant breached that duty of care,
- The dog attack occurred because of the breach of duty, and
- You were injured and suffered compensable harm as a result of the dog attack.
Whatever the circumstances of your case, keep in mind that, unlike some other states, Arizona does not give dog owners one “free pass” before holding them liable for the injuries resulting from a dog bite accident. That means the owner of the dog that attacked you can be held liable for your injuries whether or not the dog has ever bitten anyone before.
Statute of Limitations for Phoenix Dog Bite Claims
When it comes to filing a lawsuit for a dog bite accident in Phoenix, there are two separate statutes of limitations or time limits during which you must file a lawsuit, or else lose your right to compensation. If your claim is made under Arizona’s strict liability statute, you are not required to prove that the owner knew the dog was capable of an attack, but you have only one year to file a civil claim for compensation. Alternatively, if you intend to sue for injuries you suffered as a result of a dog attack under Arizona common law, and you are therefore required to prove that the dog owner was aware that his or her dog was dangerous and prone to biting, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a legal claim. As you can see, the statute of limitations for your dog bite claim varies depending on the circumstances of your case, which is one reason hiring an experienced personal injury attorney after suffering a dog bite injury is a good idea. A knowledgeable dog bite attorney can examine the facts of your case and determine which statute of limitations applies to your specific situation.
How We Can Help
Arizona law is tough on dog owners who allow their pets to injure or harm other people and recovering compensation for dog bite injuries through the dog owner’s insurance provider may seem like a relatively easy process. However, insurance companies are notorious for minimizing victim’s injuries and losses, and attempting to negotiate a fair settlement with a claims adjuster is never easy, especially when you have sustained serious injuries in a dog bite accident. Also, not all dog owners have insurance policies that cover dog attacks. Your best bet for getting the compensation you deserve after a Phoenix dog attack is to hire a personal injury attorney with experience handling dog bite claims, one who knows how to successfully negotiate with insurance companies and who can take your case to trial, if necessary.
Do Not Hesitate to Contact Our Dog Bite Attorneys
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 4.7 million dog bite accidents in the United States every year. Of these dog attacks, about 800,000 require medical attention for dog bite injuries and half of these incidents involve child victims. At Personal Injury Attorneys, PLLC, we know how long the road to recovery can be for dog bite victims and their loved ones, if you hire our personal injury lawyers, we will do whatever it takes to ensure that you are fairly compensated for your injuries and losses. To find out more about the process of filing a Phoenix dog bite lawsuit and holding the at-fault person or party accountable for your damages, consult our experienced personal injury attorneys as soon as possible.