Mesa Dog Bite Lawyers
CALL (800) 863-5312 TO SPEAK WITH AN EXPERIENCED MESA DOG BITE LAWYER FOR FREE
“Man’s best friend” is a popular pet in homes across the United States. That said, dog attacks can be extremely traumatic and often lead to life-altering and even fatal injuries, especially in dog attacks involving particularly vulnerable victims, such as small children and elders. Unfortunately, in addition to trauma, victims often struggle with recovering satisfactory compensation for their injuries, pain, and suffering.
At Zinda Law Group, we believe that victims of dog attacks in Arizona should not face the process of securing satisfactory compensation alone. Our experienced attorneys can help you understand your rights and ultimately help you secure maximum compensation for your injuries.
If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite injury in Mesa, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free case evaluation with one of our experienced dog bite attorneys. Our clients pay nothing unless we win their case.
What you should known about dog bites
Dogs are very common pets in the United States. According to the Insurance Information Institute, a total of 89.7 million dogs are kept as pets throughout 63.4 million U.S. households. According to the same organization, there were a total of 16,991 dog bite claims filed in 2020, amounting to a total value of $853.7 million.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that there were 26,906 non-cosmetic reconstructive procedures conducted in 2018 as a result of dog bites. Sadly, children from 0–2 years old accounted for 26% of fatalities between 2005–2020, and children from 0–9 years old accounted for 44% of dog bite attack fatalities during the same period.
Read More: Dog Bite Statistics
Routes to Recovering Compensation
An experienced attorney can help you fully understand the law governing compensation for injuries caused by dogs. He or she can offer you a simple overview of the legal framework of several potential routes to recovery, like this one below.
Many states govern compensation for dog bites according to the so-called “one bite rule.” According to this rule, a dog owner would only be liable for damages if the dog has bitten someone in the past or if the owner should otherwise have known that the dog might bite someone. For example, if the dog had shown a violent disposition in the past, the rule would likely not apply because the owner was on notice that the dog might bite someone and so should have taken greater care to ensure this did not happen.
However, Arizona is among those states that have abandoned the “one bite rule” in favor of a strict liability regulation. “Strict liability” simply means that a defendant is liable for the harm caused to the plaintiff regardless of whether the defendant knew or should have known that their behavior—or their dog’s—was likely to injure someone. In other words, if a harm resulted from the defendant’s actions, liability attaches regardless of the defendant’s actual negligence.
There are actually two strict liability statutes governing dogs and their owners in Arizona.
Strict Liability for Dog Bites
A.R.S. § 11-1025 provides that the “owner of a dog which bites a person . . . is liable for damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of its viciousness.” Importantly, this language applies only to injuries caused by dog bites.
There are two possible defenses to liability under this statute. First, a plaintiff who was bitten while trespassing, either on public or private property, is not eligible for dog-bite damages. Second, a plaintiff who provoked the attack is similarly ineligible.
The statute explains vaguely that the “issue of provocation shall be determined by whether a reasonable person would expect [their conduct] to provoke a dog.” In general, questions of reasonability require a close look at the factual circumstances of the case at hand and of any analogous caselaw.
Strict Liability for Personal Injuries Caused by “Dogs at Large”
A.R.S. § 11-1020 provides that personal injury property damage caused by “a dog while at large shall be the full responsibility of the dog owner or person or persons responsible for the dog when such damages were inflicted.” Unlike the previous statute, this language applies more broadly to any injury or damage and not just to those stemming from bites. The statute also explains that a dog is “at large” when it is neither confined by an enclosure nor physically restrained by a leash.
It is also possible to recover for injuries caused by a dog by alleging negligence, a common law cause of action. Arizona courts have held that the strict liability statutes do not replace the common law and that “it is possible to proceed simultaneously under statutory and common law theories.” See, e.g., Murdock v. Balle, 144 Ariz. 136, 138 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1985). It is typically advisable to bring both statutory and common law claims, but an attorney should evaluate the circumstances on a case-by-case basis; our Mesa dog bite lawyers are here to help.
Under a negligence theory, you can recover damages for any injury or damage caused by the dog, not just from its bites. Proving negligence requires showing that:
1. The dog owner owed the victim a legal “duty of reasonable care.”
2. The owner breached that duty.
3. The victim was injured.
4. The owner’s breach caused that injury.
In other words, unlike strict liability, proving negligence requires showing that the owner knew or should have known that their dog presented a danger and that the owner was therefore unreasonable for not taking greater care. This generally requires showing that the dog had previously attacked someone or otherwise exhibited violent tendencies before the attack.
Watch out for Statutes of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a restriction barring claims after a certain period of time passes after the injury. Arizona is somewhat unique in its statutes of limitations; A.R.V. § 12-541 bars recovery on claims for “liability created by statute” brought one year after the injury. The narrow window created by this one-year rule is fairly uncommon, and it applies to both the dog-bite and dog-at-large strict liability statutes discussed above. By contrast, A.R.V. § 12-542 establishes a more generous two-year window for other personal injury claims, including negligence actions.
The lesson to be learned from these statutes is that it is best to consult with an attorney early on. Assessing your case sooner rather than later will help ensure that key evidence is not forgotten, overlooked, or lost. It will also prevent your claim from being barred by either the one-year or two-year statutes of limitations.
What to Do after Being Bitten
Dogs come in many shapes and sizes, but they can all bite. Even bites from relatively small dogs can lead to complications such as infections. In handling the aftermath, consider taking the following steps.
Seek Medical Attention
Even in mild cases, you should tend to dog bites as soon as possible to reduce the risk of bacterial infection. Assess your injuries; if they are shallow and not severe, administer basic first aid. If they are more serious, seek immediate medical attention and keep track of your medical records—billing and treatment—as they will serve as key evidence in your case. Compensable injures may include:
- Facial injuries
- Puncture wounds
- Eye injuries such as corneal scratches
- Nerve Damage
- Infections, such as rabies
- Emotional Trauma
Document the Incident
If you choose to file suit, you will need evidence to make your case. Footage of the dog, injuries, and location of the attack can also serve as key evidence. If any witnesses were present at the scene, collect their contact information; their testimony and any footage they collected of the attack can serve to further substantiate your case.
File a Report
You should also contact your local animal control authority and file a report. If the dog has a history of attacking, it will likely have been reported. Any history of violent behavior can help further substantiate your case.
Speak with an Attorney
Finally, contact an experienced attorney who can help you better understand your rights and options going forward as you seek compensation for your injuries. Your attorney will work with you to collect and organize evidence, and they will interview witnesses where needed. Most importantly, they will help you navigate the Arizona law governing dog bites to help you seek maximum compensation.
If insurance companies are involved, be cautious when speaking to them before consulting with an attorney. Even your own insurance company is not your closest ally, and their settlement offers are often based not on your actual pain and suffering but on a perception of what a likely outcome at trial might be. Always remember, any communication you have with an insurance company can be raised against you during the settlement process and in court, so, before speaking to an attorney, do not sign waivers or forms presented to you by insurance companies and do not admit fault.
Read More: Follow this link to request a free Dog Attack Guide prepared by Zinda Law Group.
Let Us Fight for You
Dog attacks often result in severe, life-altering injuries, and the law governing compensation in dog bite cases often demands a fact-intensive inquiry. If a dog bit you in Mesa, we are here to help. Our attorneys can help you navigate the law, gather your evidence, and argue your case effectively.
At Zinda Law Group, we believe that no victim of a dog bite should face the process of recovering compensation alone or worry about affording excellent legal representation. We pride ourselves in providing that representation, and our clients pay nothing unless we win their case. That is our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.