Infographic: Bitten by a Dog in Arizona? What You Need to Know

by Doug Zanes | Last Updated: January 13, 2015

It’s hard to think that a cute and cuddly dog could cause harm to anyone—but it happens.

So, what is the best way to handle a dog bite incident?

Be sure to find an attorney who is licensed in your town/state, because every state’s dog bite laws are different.

For now, let’s focus on Arizona.

In Arizona, a dog bite victim has one year (statute of limitations) to open a “strict liability” dog bite claim. This means, the dog’s owner is 100% liable if their dog bites another person.

If the victim does not open a claim or sue the dog’s owner within one year, the victim loses the ability to recover under “strict liability.”

After the first year, the victim must prove that the dog’s owner was negligent in order to recover (negligence argument during year two).

Therefore, although a dog bite victim may have two years to open a claim in Arizona, the ability to recover becomes more difficult after the first year, because the victim loses the “strict liability” argument and carries a tougher burden through the negligence standard.

If you’ve fallen victim to a dog in Arizona, your best option is to open a claim as soon as possible, and speak to a Phoenix personal injury attorney to discuss your options.

Most dog bite cases are often very difficult to win for a number of reasons. Here is why:

  1. Finding insurance coverage to compensate the injured victim. For example, if an individual was bitten by a random dog without a clear owner, it can be difficult to find the owner and obtain insurance.
  2. An individual was bitten by a friend or relative’s dog.
    • The good news is that the dog owner is obvious and the victim is potentially able to obtain the homeowners or renters insurance.
    • The bad news is most people will take this request personally and will not want to provide their insurance information.
    • Either way, do not leave the house without the insurance. Openly communicate with the owner that you may want to file a claim against their insurance, not them personally.
  3. Renters do not have renters insurance; therefore, there is no insurance to cover injuries.
  4. Some insurance policies do not cover “dangerous animals” which is clarified in the policy. Each policy is different.

Dog bites should not be taken lightly. Most injuries are severe. When a dog bites an individual they likely bite more than once, and could attack again.

Based on our experience, about 50% of the time dog owners have adequate insurance coverage to compensate the victim.

However, if there is no insurance available, how do you get compensated? One answer is to sue the dog owner personally.

After a dog bite incident you should follow these simple tips:

  1. If you know who the dog owner is, ask for the insurance information and do not leave their residence until you have it. Remember, it’s very likely both parties will be the most accommodating right after an incident, however dog owners are likely to be less responsive to your request weeks after an accident.
  2. Obtain the name of the insurance, policy number, full name of dog owner, and home location.
  3. If you feel it is necessary, call animal control and ask the officer to obtain information. Most people do not say “no” to an officer. Note: officers are unlikely to ask for the insurance information without your prompting them to do so.
  4. If the skin has been broken, you may need immediate care. Therefore, see a doctor as soon as possible.
  5. Contact a Phoenix personal injury attorney to learn your options.

Dog Bite Incidents: A Serious and Complicated Case Type | Zanes Law

If you’ve been bitten by a dog in Phoenix, give us a call to schedule your free consultation at 888-894-0135 or listen to our attorney, Doug Zanes’ talk-show episode on this topic.

Doug Zanes: Founding Attorney Raised in Douglas, Arizona, and went to college at Arizona State University and graduated from law school at St. Mary’s University School of Law in Texas. Doug began practicing law in Phoenix Arizona in 1997.
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