Phoenix Dog Bite Lawyer
While some dog breeds are unfairly categorized as “dangerous,” the truth is that any breed of dog is capable of biting and injuring a person in the right circumstances. Anyone in the Phoenix area who is bitten by a dog needs to know his or her rights and what options are available for legal recourse in the event of a serious injury. Dog bite laws vary from state to state, and in Arizona, they function under a strict liability statute. This means that the owner of a dog is liable for any injuries the dog causes, regardless of whether or not the owner knew the dog was dangerous.
Dog bites lead to nearly 1,000 emergency medical visits every day. The severity of the injuries varies from mild puncture wounds and scratches to fatal injuries. If you’ve been injured by a dog in Arizona, remember that the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit against the dog’s owner is one year—unless the claim is filed for owner negligence. In that case, the statute of limitations is two years. You can’t file a claim after that time.
The best course of action if you have been attacked by a dog in Arizona is to contact the Phoenix personal injury law firm of Cullan & Cullan to see how we can help you establish your case.
Arizona Dog Bite Laws
Section 11-1025 of the Arizona Revised Statutes states that the owner of a dog who bites another person is strictly liable for damages suffered by the person who has been bitten, as long as the person who is injured is in a public place or lawfully in a private place. However, if the injured person provoked the dog attack, the victim cannot hold the dog owner liable for their injuries. Although provocation is not clearly defined in the statute, A.R.S. 11-1027 states that provocation hinges on whether a reasonable person would consider the injured persons’ action as provocation.
Dog owners can also be held liable if their dog had attacked before. According to A.R.S. 11-1025, there is liability whether or not the owner was aware of any past behavior that would indicate the dog had vicious propensities. Pet owners in Arizona do not get a “one bite free” before they become strictly liable for injuries their dogs inflict – pet owners throughout the state are always held liable for their dogs actions, so long as the case fits within the requirements of the statute. Reaching out to a Phoenix dog bite attorney can help you better understand the ins and outs of the Arizona legal system regarding dog attacks.
Establishing a Dog Bite Case in Phoenix
Dog bite cases can happen anywhere, and the circumstances of the incident will play a large role in the outcome of a case against the owner. The owner of a dog that bites may face criminal charges in addition to any civil actions the victim files in certain situations:
- If the owner intentionally sets his or her dog loose to attack a person, it is classified as a class three felony.
- If the owner keeps a dog known to be aggressive and the dog attacks a person, it is a class five felony.
- If the owner of an aggressive dog fails to take proper precautions to prevent the dog from injuring anyone, the owner may face a class one misdemeanor. Such cases don’t require the dog to cause an injury for the owner to face charges.
For the victim of a dog bite to successfully file a civil action against the dog’s owner, he or she must prove the owner’s negligence. This means demonstrating in court that the dog’s owner didn’t exercise reasonable care when handling or housing the dog and that the victim’s injuries were the direct result of this carelessness.
Victims of dog bites may recoup damages for medical expenses, the costs of ongoing medical treatment, rehabilitative care, pain and suffering, lost wages from missed time from work, and any permanent disabilities that result from the incident.
Defenses for Arizona Dog Owners
If your dog bites someone, you may be able to avoid a lawsuit. The two most common defenses for owners of dogs that bite are provocation and trespassing. If the victim knowingly provokes the dog, he or she can’t recover damages, since he or she incited the attack. Similarly, a victim can only claim damages if he or she is lawfully present at the location of the incident. Trespassers on private property aren’t eligible to collect damages if the property owner’s dog attacks them.
Keep in mind that Arizona operates under a comparative negligence law, meaning the plaintiff’s damages may be reduced if a judge finds him or her to be partially responsible for the incident. If the plaintiff plays any role in causing the incident, he or she will be assigned a fault percentage, and the damages will be reduced accordingly.
Anyone who has been bitten by a dog needs to know the options available for collecting damages. Conversely, dog owners need to know their rights if they’re accused of negligence. If you find yourself on either side of such a situation, it’s important to reach out to a reliable Arizona dog bite attorney who can aggressively defend your rights. Get in touch with Cullan & Cullan in Phoenix for a free case evaluation, and we can discuss your options.