If you’ve experienced a dog bite in Arizona, you know that dog bites can be a very serious matter. If you believe that you have a case, it’s important to understand how your case fits within established dog bite laws in the Grand Canyon State.
For this reason, Negretti & Associates would like to offer this overview on dog bite laws in our state, along with our perspective on how an attorney can assist with a case. Our Arizona dog bite lawyers have represented people who have suffered serious injuries in dog attacks. We know dog bite laws and are ready to help you navigate your case. You don’t have to figure it out alone. Please contact us with questions about your case.
Strict Liability: No “One-Bite Rule” in Arizona
Arizona courts have made it clear that if you are bitten by a dog — even if it’s the first time in which a dog has bitten someone — you are entitled to be compensated for your injuries.
In the case Massey v. Colaric (1986), the court discussed the legal theory of “strict liability,” which means that the dog owner is liable — in other words, responsible — for injuries caused by his or her dog.
The court opinion of Massey v. Colaric observes, “In Arizona dogs do not get ‘one free bite.’ Owners are held strictly liable for injuries caused by their dogs’ actions and liability is imposed without regard to an owner’s knowledge of the dog’s viciousness.”
It some states, such as Colorado, a dog is allowed one bite before the owner of the dog is responsible for the injuries caused by a second bite. This is known in legal terms as the “one-bite rule.” This is not the case in Arizona.
Arizona’s law governing liability for dog bites, A.R.S. §11-1025, states that dog owners are responsible for paying damages to victims if they are legally on public or private property. This includes the dog owner’s property. The statute reads, “The owner of a dog which bites a person when the person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, 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.”
Let me give you some real-world scenarios to help you better understand how this Arizona law actually applies.
- You are jogging down a city street and a dog escapes from someone’s yard and bites you. Yes, the Arizona law would apply and you can recover damages for that. Note: This actually happened to me a few months ago. However, the dog couldn’t catch me to bite me because I ran really fast!
- An Amazon delivery driver is drops off a package at your house. Your dog gets out and bites the driver. Yes, the Arizona law would apply and the driver could recover damages for that. Note: My dogs go crazy when the Amazon folks show up at our house. It’s probably because my wife gets three to four deliveries a day.
- You are helping a friend move and you go into the house to grab a box. You turn the corner and your friend’s dog bites you. Yes, the Arizona law would apply and you can recover damages for that. Note: Don’t ever buy a pickup unless you intend to help everyone move.
- A landscaper is in your backyard cutting the grass. Your dog gets out and bites him. Yes, the Arizona law would apply and your landscaper can recover damages for that. Note: Take care of the people who take care of you.
- You are at the dog park and another dog chases down your dog and starts to attack her. You go to break up the fight and get bitten. Yes, the Arizona law would apply and you can recover damages for that. Note: Dog parks can be fun for your fur baby, but they can also be a danger zone. Be mindful of what’s going on in the dog park before you decide to let your pup off the leash to play.
Statute of Limitations: A One-Year Deadline
A key feature of Arizona dog bite laws is that there is a deadline to bring forth a case. This deadline is one year from the date of the dog bite. The legal term for this is “statute of limitations.”
If you do not bring your lawsuit forward within the one-year window, you lose the right to do so. This can be found in A.R.S. §12-541.
This law surprises some people because the normal deadline to bring a personal injury lawsuit is two years.
Why is there an accelerated deadline? The thinking is that since you do not have to prove liability for your claim, it should not take as long to resolve.
Provocation as a Defendant’s Argument
In Arizona there are really only two defenses that a dog owner can assert to avoid being responsible for their dog biting you.
The first defense is known as the “provocation” defense. In other words, the defense argues that the attacking dog was provoked.
An important Arizona dog bite law, A.R.S. §11-1027, states that: “Proof of provocation of the attack by the person injured shall be a defense to the action for damages. The issue of provocation shall be determined by whether a reasonable person would expect that the conduct or circumstances would be likely to provoke a dog.”
Proof of provocation is almost always used as a defense in dog bite cases. As experienced Arizona dog bite lawyers, we have encountered this defense many times. Sometimes it is applied in ways that would leave you scratching your head.
For example, we once represented a man who was walking his dog in his neighborhood. A neighbor’s dog got out and attacked both him and his dog.
Through his attorney, the owner of the attacking dog argued that because our client was on a sidewalk and his dog looked weak, the attacking dog was provoked. No joke! Defendants will literally do anything they can to avoid compensating people injured by dog bites.
Trespassing as a Defendant’s Argument
The second, but rarely used, defense in dog bite cases involves trespassing on someone else’s property. A.R.S. §13-1502 and §13-1504 define trespass as a physical intrusion or entry upon the land or property belonging to someone else wherein, causing damage to the property owner and/or his or her property.
In this situation, the dog owner of the attacking dog may not be responsible to you for your injuries.
To illustrate, in another case, our client — who was very tall — looked over his backyard fence into his neighbor’s yard. The neighbor had a dog that jumped up on the fence and bit our client’s face.
The defendants in that case claimed that our client trespassed when he looked over the fence. The judge didn’t buy the argument and ordered that the dog owner pay our client for injuries to his face.
Call Us with Questions About Your Dog Bite Case
Remember, in Arizona, dog bites have a short statute of limitations. This means you have a smaller window of time to get your claim resolved. Reach out today for a free case consultation with one of Negretti & Associates’ Arizona dog bite lawyers to discuss your options. Call us at (602) 531-3911 in Arizona, contact us online, or send us a text