What are My Personal Injury Rights After a Dog Bite in Arizona?
With a generally mild climate year-round, Arizonans are encouraged to enjoy outdoor activities on a daily basis. For many, the best way to enjoy their daily dose of Vitamin D is with “Man’s Best Friend” by their side. Even if you are not a dog owner, you are more than likely to encounter a dog almost anytime you set foot outside your home. Although Arizona is one of the most dog friendly states, its dog bite laws are among the strictest in the country. With an abundance of Arizona dog owners and with over 18,000 dog bite claims per year nation wide, we, at Torgenson Law, believe it is our responsibility to inform you about your rights to compensation if you suffer a dog bit in Arizona.
Arizona’s Dog Bite Statute
Like most states, Arizona has a statute that enforces liability on a dog owner if his or her dog bites someone. Specifically ARS § 11-1025 imposes liability on the dog’s owner if the animal bites another person. For the purposes of this statute, an owner is anyone who keeps the dog for more than six consecutive days. Thus, individuals who are merely caring for the dog can be held liable if the dog causes personal injuries. Most homeowners and renters insurance policies provide liability coverage for dog bite related injuries up to a certain amount. If you are bitten, gather information regarding the dog owner or keeper’s insurance policy to find out if your injuries will be covered.
Arizona Applies Strict Liability to Dog Bite Claims
In the U.S., there are generally two types of dog bite statutes. Some states have “one-bite” statutes. These laws only impose liability on a homeowner if they knew their dog was predisposed to aggression or biting. However, Arizona applies strict liability to all dog bites. Under Arizona’s strict liability statute, a dog owner will be liable for dog bite injuries regardless of dog’s breed or its aggressive or peaceful nature. So, even if the animal has no history of biting, the dog owner will still be liable if the dog bites someone and causes damages.
Defenses to Dog Bite Claims
Arizona’s dog bite laws provide two defenses to dog bite injury claims. First, a dog owner will not be liable if the individual who was bitten was unlawfully on the owner’s property. For example, if a dog attacks an individual who trespasses on the dog owner’s property without the owner’s permission, the dog owner is absolved from liability. Second, provocation is a valid defense to dog bite claims. Under ARS § 11-1027, if a person aggravates a dog in a way that “a reasonable person would expect that the conduct or circumstances would likely provoke a dog,” he will not be entitled to recovery if the provocation causes the dog to bite him. Insurance adjusters and defense attorneys will undoubtedly raise these two defenses if you seek recovery for your bite related medical expenses and pain and suffering. Therefore, it is in your best interest to contact the animal control authorities and an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure that the incident is accurately documented and your rights to compensation are protected.
At Torgenson Law, we love dogs, however, we are also well aware of the significant damages that can result from a dog bite. As Arizona Injury Lawyers, it is our duty to use our legal knowledge and experience to fight for those who are wrongly injured. If you or a loved one suffers injuries due to a dog bite, call us at (602) 726-0747 for a free consultation regarding your personal injury rights.