Phoenix Dog Bite Lawyers
CALL (800) 863-5312 TO SPEAK WITH A PHOENIX DOG BITE LAWYER FOR FREE
Though we often picture dogs to be cuddly and friendly, they can quickly become aggressive when they feel threatened or afraid. You may have read reports of dogs severely injuring people. Such injuries can lead to months in a hospital. This means lost time to work and to enjoy life. Fortunately, dog bite victims have legal recourse to seek compensation from the responsible parties.
If you or your loved one has suffered an injury from a dog bite, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our Phoenix dog bite lawyers.
Dog Bite Statistics
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, around 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Though around 400 people have died from dog bites from 2005 to 2016, hundreds of thousands require medical attention because of dog bites. Arizona ranks among the highest in dog bite accidents. Around 400 bites were reported in 2018. As the average insurance payout tends to be $44,523, Arizona’s state insurance providers have paid out a total of $17.5 million in 2018.
Arizona Dog Bite Law
Though some states require a dog bite victim to show that a dog owner was negligent to receive compensation, Arizona law states that a dog owner is strictly liable when his or her dog bites another individual who is legally on public or private property. However, like many laws, there are exceptions. For instance, people who are bitten by police or military dogs on duty will not be able to file a lawsuit for their bites.
You should note that Arizona’s dog bite statute allows a victim to sue the person who had control over the dog as well. This means that even if a person who is taking care of a dog but is not its true owner may be liable if the dog bites an individual.
What does Strict Liability Mean?
In the context of a dog bite lawsuit, strict liability means that 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 to a victim of a bite from his or her dog.
Of course, if the victim was trespassing on a property that happened to have a dog, he or she would not be able to file a lawsuit against the property owner. However, dog owners should put up “Beware of Dog” signs to be safe, as some trespassers may be totally innocent and thought that they had permission to enter the property.
Common Causes of Dog Bites
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 there are some dog breed advocates who 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:
- Pit bulls
- German Shepherds
- Jack Russell terriers
Read More: America’s Most Dangerous Dog Breeds
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Lacerations are simply cuts and or tears in the skin.
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.
What to Do After Being Bitten by a Dog
1. 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.
2. Cover the Wound
Get some sterile bandages or disposable paper towels to cover the wound.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Contact an Experienced Dog Lawyer
It is advised that you call an experienced dog bite lawyer so that you can find out your rights. A lawyer may help you negotiate with insurance companies and gather relevant evidence.
Learn More: Why Hiring a Lawyer Will Help Your Case
Dog Bite Compensation
In general, compensation is calculated by accounting for the victim’s economic and non-economic losses.
Economic losses can include many factors. One such factor is medical costs. 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 a suture or surgery. Even after the initial treatment, there may be additional medical costs to prevent a post-operation infection or for ongoing treatment or physical therapy. As you can imagine, a hefty bill may result from the totality of these events.
But economic losses include more than medical bills. Because a victim may not be able to work due to his or her injury, lost wages will also be considered. There could also be property damage to consider, as the dog may have damaged clothing or other personal items. In any case, economic damages compensate for a variety of monetary losses.
Non-economic losses are more difficult to calculate than economic losses. For example, they may include the pain of the injury and treatment. Mental suffering due to post-traumatic stress and scarring and disfigurement may also be considered.
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 failed 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. If you do not file a lawsuit within two years, however, you may be barred from filing any lawsuit.
An experienced attorney may help you determine the best course of action and ensure your claim is timely filed.
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 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 stubborn or cooperative the dog owner is
This is not an exhaustive list. Consulting with an attorney may 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 experienced Phoenix attorneys at Zinda Law Group may be able to help you with your personal 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.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.