As Phoenix dog bite attorneys, we are concerned with the nature and frequency of dog bites. In fact, we are so concerned that we want to provide you with five dog bite prevention tips. Dog bite incidents are no longer just a problem for mail carriers or the occasional neighbor. They are now becoming a more serious problem. Whenever a child is near a German Shepard, Rottweiler, or bulldog, dog bite accidents are common, and people are not paying enough attention to this terrible issue. This is why each animal bite claims lawyer in Phoenix focuses on cases that involve dog bites. If you have suffered a dog bite injury, please contact us for a free consultation. Our dog bite attorneys in Phoenix will have the fight with the insurance company for you.

Whether the best objective is a settlement or going straight to court, we will always fight for our clients within the legal system. Furthermore, our qualified attorneys do not charge any fees unless we win our cases. Unlike a number of other law firms, we are not simply in the legal profession for the money. Our Phoenix dog bite attorneys fight for injured individuals because they believe in justice and the rights of dog bite victims. We care about the people who we represent.

Steps To Take After A Dog Bite In Phoenix

MMDAF awards_logo1When it comes to your dog bite case, you must obtain the dog owner’s insurance policy. Any homeowner or tenant of a rental property should have one. You or your animal bite claims lawyer should obtain this information as soon as possible. If you allow time to pass, it will likely be harder to get. You should also go to the emergency room immediately after the incident. If the dog bite has broken the skin, it’s possible you’ve suffered a broken bone, and you also risk an infection setting in. Get your wound examined as soon as possible so that a medical professional can clean and treat it. Acting immediately is crucial. The longer you wait to get the dog owner’s insurance policy and to have a doctor look at your injuries, the more likely it is that your case could lose legitimacy.

You will also need to decide whether or not you would like to file a claim against the dog owner’s insurance company. Be aware of the statute of limitations in the State of Arizona regarding dog bites. Dog bite victims only have one year to file a strict liability claim. During this first year, the owner of the dog is held responsible for your injury simply because he or she owns the dog. In addition, you have two years to file a lawsuit for negligence. However, this action poses more challenges than your liability claim because you have to prove in court that the dog owner’s negligence is what led to the dog’s attack. But the statute of limitations in Arizona only allows for two years to file a lawsuit for negligence.

Furthermore, when this time expires, you completely forfeit all your rights. So do not wait to take action. While you have a year or two to accomplish these tasks, our Phoenix dog bite attorneys cannot stress enough how vital it is to immediately pursue your dog bite claim. The longer you wait, the more legal power the dog owner gains over you. Speak with an animal bite claims lawyer immediately because we would hate to see you either not informed of your rights or acting too slowly to defend yourself in court.

Strict Liability for Dog Bites in Phoenix

AzTLA awards_logo4Under Arizona Revised Statutes §11-1025, the owner of a dog that bites someone who is in public or lawfully in a private place, including the dog owner’s property, is considered responsible for the injuries the person incurs. The dog owner has strict liability for damages, even if the animal had never acted aggressively before and the owner had no knowledge of its vicious propensities.

When a dog that is running freely and uncontrolled bites someone, either the dog’s owner or the person responsible for the dog when it attacked may be held responsible for the damages caused. A dog is deemed “at large” when it is either not confined within an enclosure or does not have a leash or other physical constraint. A Phoenix lawyer who has experience representing dog bite victims can provide guidance regarding the best way to proceed after an injurious attack.

A dog bite victim is precluded from bringing legal action against a government agency using dogs for police work or military duties if the dog bit the individual in self-defense or following provocation from the victim. If an agency has adopted a written policy for appropriate dog use, other circumstances in which a dog bite victim may not sue a government agency for the injury include when the dog is assisting an agency employee with apprehending them as a criminal suspect, engaging in a criminal investigation in which they are involved, executing a warrant involving their property, defending a person’s safety against the individual.

Any person who is bitten in the course of these activities and is not a party to the act that prompted the dog’s use for military or police purposes reserves the right to seek damages.

Common Law Causes of Action Relating to Dog Bites

ASLA awards_logo3Dog bite victims may also file claims against a dog owner or the person responsible for the dog on the basis of common law causes of action, such as negligence. These claims may be pursued simultaneously with strict liability causes of action.

A person who suffered a dog bite in Phoenix is likely to succeed in a negligence claim against the dog’s owner or the party responsible for the dog at the time of the attack if they and their attorney can prove the following elements:

  • The defendant owed the victim a duty of care with regard to the dog in question
  • The defendant failed to maintain that duty to the victim
  • The defendant’s breach of duty led to the dog bite
  • The dog bite caused the victim to suffer actual damages

Within the context of negligence in a dog bite case, a dog’s owner or the person responsible for a dog at the time of an attack will be considered to owe a duty to any person who suffers a bite in a public place or while legally on private property.

Engaging a Phoenix Dog Bite Attorney

Doug Zanes

Doug Zanes, Phoenix Dog Bite Lawyer

Above all, you need to decide whether or not you need an animal bite claims lawyer to represent you in Phoenix, Arizona. The fact is that dealing with a dog bite injury in the legal system is a complex matter. Investigating your ordeal is complicated enough in itself, let alone bringing it to court and filing any claims or lawsuits. Our Phoenix dog bite attorneys will investigate all the claims related to your case. We will accurately represent all of the facts and evidence in court. Don’t lie down and allow the offending party or the justice system deny you fair compensation for your losses.

Again, our Phoenix dog bite attorneys will do everything in their power to defend you. We will not allow our clients to remain victims. Our attorneys use the legal system to empower our clients to take a stand and fight back. In addition to the help we provide in the courtroom, we encourage our clients. Each animal bite claims lawyer is your support and your advocate. Call today to learn more.

Dog bite injuries can be severe. They can cause damage far beyond puncture wounds.

When dogs attack, they could cause:

  • Puncture wounds
  • Broken bones
  • Facial injuries
  • Eye injuries
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Nerve damage

Depending on whom the dog attacks, the animal can often injure the victim’s face and neck, which is when they might suffer the most serious and disfiguring injuries. In the worst case, dog attacks can be fatal. About 40 people die due to dog bites each year, and many different breeds are involved in fatal dog attacks.

Arizona specifically passed a law banning any kind of discrimination against so-called dangerous breeds of dogs such as pit bulls. People can own these breeds the same as any others without any special rules to keep the public safe. Arizona claims to be a dog-friendly jurisdiction. However, this does not do anything to keep people safe from dangerous breeds such as pit bulls and rottweilers that can actually kill people. There are no extra penalties against the owners for pit bull attacks.

Dogs are very territorial animals. They often view children as encroaching on their space, especially since they are on the same physical level. Children often do not know where to go when they are around dogs, and they may end up getting too close when the dog does not want them near. Kids do not know anything about dog psychology to know that dogs have their territory that they are guarding.

Dogs can also be very anxious animals who get frightened easily. When they get scared, their instinct is to attack. Children also do not know how to approach dogs, and they may frighten the animals by being unpredictable. Small children are often loud and disruptive, and it could agitate and scare dogs. In addition, dogs often bite when they are in pain, and when children do things like step on the dog’s tail, the animal may attack.

In almost all cases, strict liability means that the owner is automatically liable for dog bite injuries. Once you can show that a dog bit you, the burden shifts to the owner to show why you should not receive compensation.

The most common exception to strict liability that dog owners try to use is arguing that you provoked the dog, though even this is a limited exception. To provoke a dog, you must do something that a reasonable person would consider to be a provocation. Usually, this is some sort of direct behavior specifically meant to make the dog angry. Walking over and petting a dog would not be a sufficient provocation.

In addition, you may not receive compensation if you were trespassing on someone else’s property. However, if you were legally on the property, such as delivering mail or a package, you can still recover compensation for dog bite injuries. As long as the property owner invited you on to the property or has an expectation that you may enter, they have a legal obligation to take steps to protect you besides just putting up a “beware of the dog” sign.

One’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy should cover injuries by pets. The owner should have liability insurance as part of their policy, and the usual coverage is between $100,000 and $300,000. Based on your damages, the insurance company could cover the claim up to the policy limits. If the coverage is not enough to pay for the injuries, the dog’s owner would be personally liable for the extra damages.

Of course, the presence of an insurance company makes things difficult for claimants. These companies see thousands of dog bite claims each year, and they specialize in trying to keep their payouts low. Underpaying claims and getting people to accept low settlement offers is how the insurance company makes their money. This means that you will need an attorney who knows how to negotiate with the insurance company to get you the most possible compensation. This is what we do at Zanes Law Injury Lawyers.

As we just mentioned, it is the insurance company that pays the dog bite claim. Chances are that your friend would not need to pay the money out of their own pocket. Many people are afraid of filing a claim against their friend out of fear of ruining the friendship.

While we will not tell you what to do, we will tell you that you are leaving money on the table if you hesitate to file a claim out of fear of angering your friend. If you do not take some sort of action, you may have to pay your own damages when there is a way to recover money in your case.

Moreover, the claim ultimately goes against your friend’s insurance company—the insurance company will defend against the claim, and if you prevail, it will pay the damages, not your friend.

 

There is only a little doubt that the dog owner will be legally responsible for the bite injuries. Most of the subsequent disagreement will involve the amount of compensation as opposed to whether you deserve any. In most cases, your dog bite claim will lead to a settlement. However, it does not always happen right away. Homeowners insurance companies are notorious for their tricks, and they may try to lowball your claim to delay you and see if you will settle.

At some point, the odds are that you will reach a settlement agreement. However, if the insurance company absolutely refuses to negotiate reasonably, you may have no choice but to file a lawsuit. The good news is that even lawsuits usually settle before the jury reaches a decision.

In terms of the timing, dog bite cases may settle sooner than your average personal injury case because there is little doubt about liability. Unless the insurance company is arguing that one of a few very limited exceptions to strict liability applies, the conversation goes right to money. However, the insurance company could try to drag things out to test what you would accept. The average case would settle in less than one year.

Some states draw a line between dog bites and attacks when it comes to applying strict liability. Arizona is one of them. The law of strict liability only applies if the dog actually bit you. If the dog injured you, but it was not from a bite, then the laws of negligence apply. For example, if you were trying to get away from an aggressive dog and hurt your back, it would involve a regular negligence inquiry where you are trying to determine if the dog owner acted unreasonably. The same is true when the dog hurts you by jumping on you instead of biting you.

Many people think that they are better off handling their own dog bite claims because they do not have to prove that the dog owner was at fault. As we mentioned, liability is only part of the case. In dog bite cases, the more important question is how much money you can recover for your injuries.

Insurance companies know how much your claim is worth, right down to the penny. You can rest assured that is not what they will offer you as an initial settlement. It takes time and multiple rounds of offers and counteroffers to reach an agreement. An insurance company is more likely to take liberties when dealing with unrepresented claimants. Accordingly, people handling their own claims may settle them for far less than what they are worth because they do not know the value.

Like any personal injury case, you deserve to be put in the same economic position as if the dog bite never happened. You can receive economic and non-economic damages for your injuries.

These include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress and trauma
  • Cost of out-of-pocket medical bills
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Lost wages for your own injuries or for caring for an injured child

Dog bite injury compensation may increase for a child victim. With many children’s bites occurring on the head, face, or neck, there may be extensive surgery required. In addition, dogs cause even more fear and trauma when they attack children. They may suffer a lifetime of fear from the attack, especially if it was a brutal one.

If another dog injures or kills your pet, you may seek financial compensation because the pet is your property. However, strict liability laws only apply when the dog bites a person. If the dog harmed your pet, you would need to prove that the owner was negligent to receive compensation. If that happens, you could receive compensation, including money for veterinary bills that could cover your pet’s care.

Most of what we know about dog bite settlements comes from data released by insurance companies. State Farm publishes among the most comprehensive settlement data every year in which it releases the average claim that it pays. In 2019, State Farm said that the average dog bite settlement that it paid was over $43,000. In Arizona, the average settlement is just over $45,000.

If you or a loved one have been a bite victim, you should just use this as general information. You deserve damages based on how you suffered.

We have seen six-figure dog bite verdicts and settlements and know of cases that reach into the seven figures. Never assume that you will only receive a certain amount based on what others may recover. You will only know what you can recover when you have someone on your side who can help you fight for it.

Arizona has somewhat different laws about the statute of limitations for dog bite claims. Usually, the statute of liability for personal injury cases is two years. However, if you are filing under the strict liability laws, you only have one year from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit.

After one year, the standard for your dog bite lawsuit would go back to the “one free bite” rule that is the law in many other states. You would need to prove that the owner knew or should have known that the animal was dangerous. Usually, this happens after a dog bites once. This is why you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible after your injury to make your claim. Otherwise, waiting too long could make it harder for you to recover financial compensation. At Zanes Law Injury Lawyers, we are standing by and ready to help you.

A dog bite lawyer is like any other personal injury attorney. They will work for you on a contingency basis. If you do not recover anything for your injuries, your lawyer does not receive payment. This keeps you from having to write a retainer check upfront before you have received anything for your claim.

If you receive a settlement check from the insurance company or a jury verdict, your attorney will receive a percentage of the money. The exact amount will be in the representation agreement that you sign with the attorney at the very beginning of your case. You will have to pay attorney’s fees out of pocket for your case. This makes it far easier to afford and hire an attorney. Don’t let fear of costs keep you from getting the legal help that you need to recover financially for your injuries.

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