According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year, and half of these are children. What's more, one in five dog bites cause serious enough injuries that they require medical attention.
Every state has enacted its own dog bite statutes; Arizona's dog bite statutes are in favor of the victim, and hold dog owners strictly accountable. Under the Arizona Revised Statutes Section 11-1025, the owner of a dog who bites a person when that person is lawfully in a public or private place, including the dog owner's property, is liable for the victim's damages.
Unlike some other states, Arizona is not a "one bite free" state. Rather, Arizona imposes strict liability on the owner of a dog who bites another person. This means that dog owners are held strictly liable, regardless of their knowledge of the dog's viciousness.
To illustrate, let's say that Carol just brought home a shelter dog. Carol accidentally leaves the gate open and her newly adopted dog gets out and bites the mailman. Although Carol was unaware that her new dog had a propensity to bite, she is still considered negligent for leaving her gate open, and she is therefore liable for the mailman's injuries.
Under ARS Section 11-1026, a person is considered to be lawfully in or on the property of a dog owner when he or she is an invitee or a guest, or when he or she is performing a duty imposed upon by United States law, or by the ordinances of a municipality where the property is located.
Reasonable Provocation – a Dog Owner's Defense
Under ARS Section 11-027, reasonable provocation may be a dog owner's defense. For example, if someone is abusing the dog, or harassing the dog, then such behaviors may classify as "reasonable provocation."
In order for a dog owner to use this as a defense, they will need to prove that the person attacked had provoked the dog, and that any reasonable person would expect that such conduct or circumstances would likely provoke a dog to bite, attack, or otherwise defend itself.
If you or perhaps your child were bitten or attacked by a dog, we urge you to contact a Scottsdale personal injury attorney from The Watkin Law Office. We understand how dog bite injuries can cause extensive medical bills, and sometimes permanent disfigurement and emotional distress.
In many cases, the dog owner's homeowner's or renter's insurance policy will cover the damages, even if the injury occurred off of the owner's property. We are very familiar with dog bite cases and know every possible avenue to explore compensation. Give us a call today at (480) 347-9804 – we want to help!