Though crowned “man’s best friend”, dogs are still born with the instincts of their wilder canine relatives, and represent a potential liability for owners. Even if your furry pal seems like the gentlest creature in the world, you should be aware of Arizona’s dog liability laws. 

It’s Not Likely to Happen to Me, Right?

You may read about a dog attack in the news, but chalk it up to a fluke or poor ownership; only the severe or unusual cases make the headlines. That is, in some ways, true. Many more dog bite incidents occur without making the news. According to the CDC and Arizona Department of Health Services, each year 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs, with children being common victims. In fact, of the non-fatal injuries most common in the world, dog bites are in the top 12. 

What’s more, hospitalizations for dog bites are on the rise in Arizona. A 2014 state health department study concluded that bites severe enough for overnight hospitalization have increased a staggering 139% from 2008 to 2012. These injuries carry a $55 million price tag for hospitals, and, again, children make up a worrying one-third of the victims.

But My Dog Wouldn’t Bite Anyone

Your dog may be a big gooey marshmallow on the inside. Hopefully, that doesn’t change. However, Arizona is a strict liability state. If your dog bites someone, you’re responsible even if your dog has never displayed any “former viciousness” to your knowledge. This is in contrast to other states, whose “one-bite” laws only hold an owner liable if their dog has bitten someone before or showed other signs of aggression. Recent legislation has also left Arizona owners responsible if their dog attacks another pet.

Liability is restricted to public places or if the bite occurred while the victim was on private property with permission. So, for instance, if your dog bites a burglar, you’re not liable, as the burglar was obviously not on your property with permission. The owner is also not responsible if the victim was provoking the dog. 

What Happens if I Get Bitten?

If you are on the receiving end of an attack, you may be eligible for damages. Unlike other personal injury cases, negligence need not be proven, as Arizona’s strict liability is designed to defend you as a victim. The compensation will depend on the severity and circumstances of the attack.

Most importantly, don’t delay in pursuing your case. In Arizona, dog bite cases have a 1-year strict liability statute of limitations and then a 2-year statute of limitations for negligence, from the time of the incident. If you wait any longer, you will likely receive nothing. A settlement could compensate you for medical and insurance bills, changes to your lifestyle that resulted from the incident, and pain and suffering.

If you have any questions about liability as a dog owner or you suffered a dog bite and would like to get started on a case, consult one of the personal injury attorneys at Bellah Perez, PLLC today: (602) 252-9937.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.