Though we often picture dogs as cuddly and friendly, they can quickly become aggressive when threatened or afraid. You may have read reports of dogs severely injuring people. Such injuries can lead to months of medical treatment, lifetime scars, and even more serious complications.
Dog bite injury victims often face expensive medical bills and extended time away from work which can result in financial hardship for the family. Fortunately, dog attack victims have legal recourse to seek compensation, and a personal injury attorney can make the claims process easier.
The Phoenix dog bite lawyers of Zinda Law Group understand the emotional distress, pain, and expense of a dog attack. Our firm fights for the rights of injury victims. We can help you navigate the bite claim process to maximize the financial compensation you recover.
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Dog Bite Injuries Can Be Very Serious
About 4.5 million individuals are bitten by dogs annually, as reported by the American Veterinary Medical Association. While around 400 people have lost their lives due to dog attacks between 2005 and 2016, hundreds of thousands more have needed medical attention.
Dog bite incidents are relatively common in Arizona. In 2018, there were about 400 documented cases of bites. The injuries from animal attacks can take considerable time to treat and result in emotional trauma.
Some of the most common dog bite injuries our Phoenix personal injury lawyers see include:
- Deep tissue bruising
- Muscle and nerve damage
- Puncture wounds
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Eye injuries
In Arizona, dog bite injuries can range from extremely painful or result in fatality. An aggressive dog’s powerful jaws and teeth can cause serious lacerations or major blood loss in an attack. Dog bite victims may sustain severe injuries that call for substantial medical treatment and attention.
If the person does not get treatment early enough, the effects of the injury could be permanent. Because of this, it is crucial to work with a law firm with the resources to ensure your rights and claim are protected. We can help you navigate the complex legal system and secure fair compensation for your suffering.
For a free legal consultation with a dog bite lawyer serving Phoenix, call 800-863-5312
Arizona Dog Bite Law
Though some states require a dog bite victim to show that a dog owner was negligent to receive compensation, Arizona observes strict liability law in these cases. This means that a dog owner is strictly liable when his or her dog bites another individual who is legally on public or private property.
The dog owner will be legally responsible for the dog bite even if he or she did not know that his or her dog had a tendency to bite. To put it more simply, a dog owner will be automatically responsible for a victim of a bite from his or her dog in most cases.
Some exceptions, such as trespassing on a dog owner’s property, may relieve the owner of some liability. A dog attack lawyer in Phoenix can investigate your situation and explain the exceptions to this law.
It’s Important to Protect Your Claim
Strict liability in Arizona laws pertaining to dog bites will make it easier for anyone who has been bitten to receive compensation. However, this does not guarantee that they will receive adequate compensatory damages to cover their losses and medical expenses.
Insurance companies frequently try to undervalue damages and engage in cost-reducing tactics, it is wise to have legal representation when filing a claim. A dog bite attorney in Phoenix can represent the victim in insurance claims negotiations to fight for the maximum compensation possible.
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Common Reasons for Dog Bites
There are many reasons for dog attacks and bites. Animals generally attack when they are afraid or defending their territory. Some of the most common scenarios are:
Failure to Leash
Some irresponsible dog owners do not leash their dogs while taking them out on a walk. An unleashed dog may attack individuals without warning.
Failing to Provide Adequate Enclosure
Some owners let their dogs live outside. However, they may have set up fences that are too low or too weak, allowing the dog to escape and attack individuals.
Sometimes dogs react violently when they are provoked and feel threatened. Children are especially susceptible to dog bites.
Some dog breeds are more aggressive than normal. These dogs are much more likely to attack strangers on a whim. Though some dog breed advocates claim that a dog cannot be inherently dangerous and that only a dog’s owner should be blamed for a dog’s violent disposition, this is not always the case.
For instance, pit bulls are often overrepresented when looking at statistics measuring dog bites. Some other dog breeds that are known to be more aggressive than normal are as follows:
- German Shepherds
- Jack Russell terriers
Regardless of the breed, all dog bites can be serious and may lead to infections and other complications. It’s important to seek medical treatment and speak with a Phoenix dog bite injury attorney after you have been bitten.
Lacerations are cuts and or tears in the skin. The wounds from an animal bite require cleaning and may need to be sutured. Speaking to your doctor about whether tetanus shots, antibiotics, or a rabies series would be needed is always a good idea.
Disfigurement is when your physical appearance has been permanently altered. For instance, there have been several cases where a dog bites the victim’s face, permanently distorting the victim’s face.
Nerve damage can cause a person to lose sensation in certain parts of his or her body. For instance, if a dog bites the victim’s finger and damages the nerves of the finger, the victim may no longer be able to feel anything using that finger.
Though we often hear of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the military context, any kind of traumatic event can cause PTSD. A victim of a dog bite may have recurring nightmares of the dog bite and may become anxious around dogs.
Dogs can carry many diseases if they are not properly vaccinated. For instance, an unvaccinated dog can transmit rabies to its victim. Bites can easily become infected and may lead to sepsis.
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What to Do in the Event of a Dog Bite
It’s important to take certain steps after you are bitten by a dog. Here are some guidelines:
Wash the Wound
Even a minor bite can be dangerous if it gets infected. After a dog bite, get antibacterial soap and wipe the affected area. Also, let water flow over it for five minutes.
Cover the Wound
Get some sterile bandages or disposable paper towels to cover the wound.
Seek Expert Medical Treatment
You may need to seek emergency medical treatment for severe injuries. Even if you do not seek medical treatment immediately after the bite, you should schedule an appointment with a physician to get additional treatment.
Contact Animal Control
When you are able, you should report a dog bite to the animal control department in your area. If the dog that bit you is on the loose, you should also call 911 because the dog could be a threat to other people in the area.
Contact an Experienced Dog Bite Lawyer
It is advised that you call an experienced dog bite lawyer so that you can find out your rights. A Phoenix dog attack lawyer may help you negotiate with insurance companies and gather relevant evidence.
Dog Bite Compensation
In general, compensation in a bite injury claim is calculated by accounting for the victim’s economic and non-economic losses.
Economic losses can include many factors:
Cost of Medical Care and Ongoing Treatment
A severe dog bite can’t always be treated with an inexpensive home first-aid kid. After a dog bite injury, an ambulance or even an airlift may be required to transport the victim to a hospital. Once the victim is at the hospital, a doctor may have to perform surgery.
Even after the initial treatment, there may be additional medical costs to prevent postoperative infection, ongoing treatment, or physical therapy. Reconstructive surgery is often necessary. As you can imagine, a hefty bill may result from the totality of these events.
Because a victim may not be able to work due to his or her injury, this loss of income will also be considered. A Phoenix dog bite injury attorney can help to calculate your lost wages and the future losses you may incur because of your medical treatment and recovery.
There could also be property damage to consider, as the dog may have damaged clothing or other personal items.
Non- Economic Damages
Non-economic losses are more difficult to calculate than economic losses. For example, they may include pain and suffering, compensation for Mental anguish due to post-traumatic stress, scarring and disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Besides compensation for economic and non-economic losses, dog bite victims may also be able to receive punitive damages.
Punitive damages depend on the conduct of the dog owner. For example, if a dog owner behaved especially egregiously or intentionally, they may be liable for punitive damages to punish them for their conduct.
Statute of Limitations
Every state has what is called a statute of limitations, or time limit, for filing lawsuits. In Arizona, if you suffered an injury from a dog bite, you have one year to file a lawsuit, as dog bites fall under the statute of limitations for strict liability.
If you fail to file a lawsuit within one year, you may still have a negligence claim against the dog owner, in which case the statute of limitations is two years.
You may have a negligence claim if you can prove that the dog owner had let his or her dog roam free or that the dog owner knew that his or her dog had a propensity for violence. However, if you do not file a lawsuit within two years, you may be barred from filing any lawsuit.
An experienced dog bite lawyer in Phoenix may help you determine the best course of action and ensure your claim is filed on time.
How Long does It Take for a Dog Bite Settlement?
A dog bite settlement can range from months to years. Because each case is unique, there is no standard timeframe to settle a dog bite claim. Some factors that may impact how long your claim takes include:
- How long the investigation takes
- How many parties are involved
- How severe your injuries were
- How much compensation you are seeking
- Whether the at-fault party had insurance
- How cooperative the dog owner is
This is not an exhaustive list. Consulting with a dog bite injury attorney in Phoenix can give you a clearer picture of how complex your case is and how long you might expect it to take.
Contact a Phoenix Dog Bite Lawyer
The personal injury attorneys at Zinda Law Group may be able to help you with a dog bite injury claim. After an accident, you shouldn’t have to worry about affording legal representation, which is why we work on a contingency fee basis. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA BY THE NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION (2016-2020)
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA (2009, 2011-2012, 2014-2021), & NEIL SOLOMON (2020-2021)
AWARDED TO JACK ZINDA (2016-2020)
LIFETIME MEMBERS JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA