Arizona Dog Bite Laws
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Jonathan Jamieson with Phillips Law Group.
Every state has slightly different laws in regard to dog bites and animal attacks. Arizona follows strict liability, which means that the owner of a pet that attacks someone else may be considered fully liable for any resulting damages. The defenses in a dog bite lawsuit are extremely limited, so it’s important to take extra precautions if you have a pet that has behaved unpredictably or aggressively in the past.
Arizona is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites.
Unlike some other states that follow the “one bite rule” in which a dog that bites for the first time may not be cause for litigation, any time someone’s animal attacks another person or pet, the animal’s owner may be held liable. According to A.R.S. § 11-1025, a dog’s owner may be held liable for any injuries or damages caused by their pet, even if they did not know about the attack and were not negligent in preventing the attack.
There may be an exception to a pet owner’s liability in Arizona.
Although not common, there may be one exception to a pet owner’s liability after an animal attack in Arizona; if a reasonable person would agree that the injured party unquestionably provoked the dog into attacking, and that the animal would not have bitten otherwise, the pet owner’s liability may be waived. This situation is not particularly common, but the defense may be applicable in rare situations and should be considered if you feel that your animal would never have behaved aggressively without severe provocation.
Animal attack victims have one year from the date of the attack to file a claim.
It’s important to note that the statute of limitations for dog bite injuries in Arizona is relatively short, even compared to some other states. The injured party may file a personal injury claim against the pet owner within a one-year statute of limitation. If one year from the date of the attack has passed without filing a claim, the injured party waives their right to pursue legal recourse for that particular event.
Animal attacks can be serious.
It’s easy to shrug off a dog bite incident as relatively minor, but this is often not the case. Depending on the age of the victim, the injury could be serious; children are particularly at risk of severe and even fatal animal attacks. Additionally, if a dog has not been properly vaccinated or has contracted a disease, this presents additional risk to an attack victim including bacterial infections, rabies, and tetanus just to name a few. The trauma that can linger for months and even years after an animal attack is another significant damage in many animal attack cases, and may result in the need for short or long-term therapy.
Practice caution both as a pet owner and bystander around an animal you do not know.
Dogs can be unpredictable; one of the best ways a dog owner can protect themselves from liability is to protect others from the possibility of an attack. This starts with being honest about your dog; if your dog has exhibited potentially aggressive behavior in the past, consult with an animal behavior specialist and install safeguards in and around your home. Mending broken fences, gates, or ensuring that your animal is never off-leash around anyone it doesn’t know are all practical, effective ways of protecting others from a potential attack and yourself from a costly lawsuit.
To learn more about how to protect yourself from liability as a pet owner, or for help filing a claim after an animal attack, reach out to a personal injury lawyer in your area.