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When to Call a Dog Bite Attorney
Dogs are man’s best friend, until they’re not.
When you are the victim of a dog attack, it can leave you in a state of physical and psychological disarray. While some dog bites create minor injuries, others can create extensive damage, often necessitating medical attention and potentially time spent away from work.
In the aftermath of a dog bite, you might be wondering what rights are available to you. In the state of Arizona, the following might apply.
The “Dog Bite Statutes”
A.R.S § 11-1025 through 11-1027 are known as the “dog bite statutes.” These are the Arizona rules governing what actions can be brought against an owner should they meet the criteria for liability.
Generally speaking, a dog owner is liable when their dog attacks an individual either on public property, or, when the individual was lawfully (such as being an invitee or guest) on private property. This includes the property of the dog owner.
The law is nuanced and oftentimes confusing, making the prospect of litigation a daunting task. In seeking legal advice, it is always wise to speak with an Arizona personal injury attorney about your concerns. However, being acquainted with the law helps starting that conversation a little easier.
For more information, the law itself can be found here, here, and here.
Common Law Negligence
While the dog bite statutes are designed to govern dog bites, sometimes additional charges can be brought under the umbrella of common law negligence.
Here, an individual who has been victim to an attack from a “dog at large” might be entitled to additional damages. In Arizona, a dog is considered “at large” when either not properly contained by a fence or otherwise not controlled or restrained by a leash.
In these instances, the type of claim brought, either criminal or civil, depends on the dog’s identification. If the dog wore a collar and license, this creates grounds for civil charges. If the dog did not wear a collar or license, this creates grounds for criminal charges.
Arizona maintains “Strict Liability”
Arizona practices “strict liability” when it comes to dog bites. This means that even if the dog in question did not previously show or act on aggressive tendencies, the owner and/or operative caretaker of the dog remains liable for any damages. In cases where a dog misbehaves under the watch of a caretaker, there is a likelihood that both the caretaker and owner will be jointly liable.
Not all dog bite injuries are created equal
There are some instances where an individual is not qualified to file an action. These exemptions fall into two main categories:
- The dog in question acted on behalf of legal authority
- If the owner proves their dog was provoked
In the first case, a dog attacks prompted through the assistance of government or law enforcement officials are exempt from liability. This includes circumstances in which the injured individual was suspect in a crime, completion of investigations, carrying out warrants, or when the dog acted in defense of an agent of law enforcement.
In the second case, the owner must prove pursuant to A.R.S § 11-1027 that a reasonable person would believe their dog was intentionally provoked. Furthermore, it must be determined that the actions taken would reasonably be understood as provoking to a dog.
In law, there is a concept called “statute of limitations.” These serve the function to limit the amount of time an individual is given to file suit after a wrongdoing is committed.
While the statute of limitations varies depending on the misconduct in question, Arizona law only gives individuals one year after the bite occurs to file action under A.R.S § 11-1025 through 11-1027.
The Decision to File a Dog Bite Claim
Making the decision to file a lawsuit is no small task. During the process an experienced lawyer will be your greatest asset-- helping you define your potential claims and litigate your case in a way that encourages success.
At Berry Law Offices, we offer you Tucson-based personal injury law supported by years of experience. From start to finish, we have represented many individuals in their personal injury cases-- including dog bite claims. Visit our FAQ page or contact us with any questions you may have for a 30-minute free consultation.
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