Dog Bite Attorney in Arizona
Arizona Dog Bite Lawyer
While most dogs make wonderful pets, even the gentlest dog can attack in certain circumstances. The person who is attacked may suffer painful injuries and long-term emotional scars. The medical bills for a serious dog bite can add financial insult to physical injury.
If you have been injured in a dog attack, the Arizona dog bite lawyers at Brown & Hobkirk, PLLC can help you recover compensation for your injuries. Our experienced legal staff includes two attorneys who obtained their law degrees from Arizona universities. Their legal training gives our law firm the local expertise that many law firms lack.
At Brown & Hobkirk, PLLC we will make sure that you stay informed throughout the legal process. We will create a goal-oriented and personalized approach to help meet your specific legal needs.
Who Is Responsible for a Dog Bite Injury?
In most cases, the dog’s owner is responsible when the pet bites and injures you. Compensation for your injuries in an animal attack includes the cost of your medical treatment, any missed wages, and your pain and suffering.
Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries
The compensation you could receive for a dog bite injury will depend on several factors, including how severe your injuries are and whether any of those injuries are permanent. Arizona law provides several methods for compensation after a dog bite injury:
- Strict liability – Arizona uses a strict liability standard for dog bite injuries. This means that if a dog bites someone on public or private property, including the owner’s property, the dog’s owners must pay for any injuries that their dog caused. This is true unless the owner can show that the dog was provoked. The strict liability standard makes compensation for dog bite injuries easier to obtain in Arizona than in many other states. The statute of limitations for pursuing a personal injury claim under Arizona’s dog bite statute is one year, so it is imperative that you don’t delay in pursuing your claim.
- Negligence – A dog bite injury victim may be able to file an additional claim for negligence. A negligence claim will depend on the circumstances of the attack. If the dog was under the supervision of a friend when the attack occurred, a negligence claim might be filed against the owner’s friend. A negligence claim allows dog bite injury victims to claim compensation for a wider range of potential losses.
In addition to the types of compensation already discussed, you might be able to claim damages for your reduced ability to earn a living. You might also be entitled to money for renovations to your home, if necessary, to accommodate your injuries.
If you have questions about potential compensation for your dog bite injuries, your best option is to speak with a knowledgeable dog bite lawyer as soon as possible.
Seeking compensation for an attack that injures you, even one that is not particularly vicious, can be stressful for the victim. One reason: most people are bitten by dogs they are familiar with. This means that the owner might be a family member, a friend or a neighbor. Dog bite victims may find it emotionally difficult to pursue a claim or file a lawsuit against someone who is close to them.
Fortunately, most homeowners’ insurance policies cover dog bite injuries. Victims are often able to file a claim against the dog owner’s insurance policy. Compensation can be obtained without causing financial harm to a family member, friend or acquaintance. That means in many cases, the dog’s owner will pay nothing out of pocket to reimburse you for the costs of your injury.
What to Do If You’ve Been Bitten by a Dog
After a dog attack, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. It is important to get prompt medical care for your injuries. You might not know the dog’s history or where the dog has been. A medical examination can help you rule out the chance of a rabies infection.
Even if the dog is not rabid, the germs dogs carry in their mouths and saliva can be extremely dangerous for people who have suffered from a dog bite. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and make copies of any receipts or other medical records. You will want those documents later in your claim for damages.
Once you have initiated medical treatment, contact the dog’s owner. Request vaccination records to confirm the dog has been vaccinated for rabies and other diseases. Get the name of the dog’s veterinarian so that you can access the animal’s veterinary records.
And, finally, report the incident to animal control for the jurisdiction where the attack took place.
Arizona Dog Laws
Arizona law holds dog owners to a strict liability standard for any dog bite injuries. Under that standard, the dog’s owners must pay for any injuries caused by the dog.
This is true as long as the victim was on the dog owner’s property legally as an invited guest, delivery worker, meter reader, postal worker, invited worker, or another type of legal invitee. Trespassers, such as burglars, cannot obtain compensation for dog bite injuries. This is because they were not lawfully on the property at the time they were injured.
Arizona’s strict liability standard for dog bites also means that dog owners can be held liable for damages, regardless of whether the owner knew, or should have known, that the dog was dangerous. Dog owners can also be held liable for their dog’s actions even if the owner was not directly at fault. That makes the owner liable even if the dog was under the supervision of someone else at the time of the attack.
Some states have a “one-bite rule.” That rule absolves dog owners of liability for the first time their dog bites someone. However, Arizona does not have this rule. This means that dog owners can be held liable for damages, even if the dog has never attacked someone before.
Even if a dog is “at large” or loose in a neighborhood, the owner can still be held strictly liable for any injuries that the dog inflicts. If the dog’s owner was not supervising or responsible for the dog at the time of an injury, the injury victim can file a claim against the owner of the dog.
One possible defense arises if the dog was provoked into attacking someone. If the dog’s owner argues that the dog was provoked, the courts will look at the events leading up to the attack. The court will determine whether a reasonable person would conclude what the victim did was enough to provoke the dog.
It is important to note that the actions of police or military dogs are largely exempt from Arizona’s strict liability standard. Dog bite victims generally cannot pursue compensation for their injuries if the dog was engaged in police or military work, attacked while in pursuit of a suspect, or bit someone while defending its handler or another person.
How Long Do You Have to File a Claim?
In Arizona, dog bite victims typically have only one year from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. That means if you wait longer, the court will most likely refuse to hear your case. Only very narrow exceptions can extend the deadline in rare cases.
Understanding Complications from Dog Bite Injuries
Rabies is the number one concern after a dog bite. However, many other painful injuries can be caused by a dog attack, including:
- Broken bones
- Torn muscles and tendons
- Bacterial infections, including staph infections
- Nerve damage
- Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD)
- Death, especially in children under 10 years old
How Our Arizona Dog Bite Lawyers Can Help
A dog bite can be a traumatic, devastating experience. You do not have to go through the aftermath of an attack by yourself. Our attorneys have handled many dog bite cases during our two decades of service to clients in Arizona. We can help you seek the compensation you deserve.
When you hire one of our dog attack lawyers, we will launch an immediate investigation and gather evidence to support your claim. We can also help you find the right doctors to treat your injuries.
As we are gathering evidence, we will hold discussions with the dog’s owner and the owner’s insurance carrier. We will help provide the necessary evidence to prove your claim, and we will fight any potential defenses raised by the dog’s owner. We will work toward a settlement that covers the full extent of your injuries.
Ready to talk to a dog bite lawyer in Arizona? The legal team at Brown & Hobkirk, PLLC is here to listen. We have offices in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Chandler, and Tucson. For your free initial consultation, call us today or fill out our online contact form.