News Article
07.27.2019
Determining Liability After a

Dog Bite

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 800,000 people in the United States require medical attention for a dog bite each year. If you are a dog bite victim, you may be wondering what legal steps you can take. Medical care can be expensive and many animal bites come with significant pain and suffering. This is especially true if a dog bites a child, who may have to live with long-term physical and psychological issues.

If you or a loved one suffered a dog bite, you need to understand how Arizona determines liability.

One-Bite Rule vs. Strict Liability

Many states have what is known informally as a "one-bite rule." This means the first time a dog bites someone, the owner may not be held responsible if they had no reason to expect the dog would become violent. Arizona, however, is one of a few states that has strict liability for dog bites. This means that a dog owner can be held liable for a bite, even if the dog had never been violent in the past.

Arizona's dog bite statute Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 11-1025 also states that negligence on the part of the dog owner is not necessary for them to be liable for a dog bite injury. In some cases, the dog owner may not have done anything that contributed to the dog bite. Arizona's strict liability law means that even in these cases, an owner is responsible for any damage that results from a bite.

When a Dog Owner is Not Liable

Although the owner is usually the one who is legally responsible for a dog bite, there are some circumstances where a dog owner is not liable. The first case is if the bite victim is trespassing on private property. ARS 11-1025 only covers bites that occur on public property or when the victim is legally present on private property.

Another common defense for dog owners is that the bite victim provoked the attack. This is outlined in ARS 11-1027. Provocation is based on whether a reasonable person would expect your actions to anger a dog. Defining what is and isn't reasonable can be difficult. This is why it is important to hire a lawyer.

Why File A Dog Bite Lawsuit

Dog bite wounds often come with high medical costs. Depending on the severity of the injury, you or your loved one may even need plastic surgery and long-term care. The psychological effects of an animal attack can also be severe. This is especially true if a child is the victim of the attack. This trauma may cause a fear of dogs or even PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Pain and suffering benefits cannot undo the injury, but it can help you manage the consequences.

You may be hesitant to file a lawsuit for a dog bite, especially if the dog owner is a friend or family member. You may also wonder if it will be worth it if there is a possibility that you will be found liable for the bite. However, it is important that you do not give up on your case before you start. Call us today for a free consultation. We evaluate each case individually to determine the best way to move forward.