While most dogs are relatively safe to be around, some may viciously attack either strangers or people they’ve interacted with in the past. A dog bite can have devastating consequences, including tendon and muscle damage, infection, scarring, and emotional trauma. Dealing with these effects can be expensive and time-consuming.
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog and sustained a serious injury, it is vital to contact a personal injury lawyer who can help determine ownership of the dog and pursue restitution for your damages. An experienced Sierra Vista dog bite attorney from our firm can help you get the medical treatment and financial compensation you need after a life-altering dog attack.
Arizona’s Strict Liability Law for Dog Bite Injuries
Arizona statute, A.R.S. §11-1025, enforces “strict liability” on the owner of a dog that bites someone. This means that the plaintiff does not have to establish that the dog owner was negligent for that owner to be responsible for their dog’s actions.
The dog owner can be liable for damages resulting from a dog bite injury regardless of whether there were any previous biting incidents or whether the owner knew about the dog’s aggressive tendencies.
For a free legal consultation with a dog bite lawyer serving Sierra Vista, call 866-499-8989
Recoverable Damages After a Dog Attack
Arizona’s strict liability law is good news for bite victims in Arizona since some other states are more lenient toward dog owners. In Arizona, a person injured by a dog may be entitled to the following damages, regardless of a dog’s past behavior:
- Economic damages, including medical expenses and lost wages
- Noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
Typically, the injured person will recover both economic damages and noneconomic damages. However, punitive damages are awarded only in cases where the defendant has done something particularly egregious. For example, if a dog owner sicced their dog on someone, instructing it to attack, punitive damages will likely be awarded to the victim.
Keep in mind that homeowners insurance policies often cover dog bites, which gives you a means of recovering damages in a situation where the pet owner doesn’t have much money.
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Insurance Claims for Dog Bite Injuries
After being injured in a dog attack, gather information or have friends or family do this for you. This will include the dog owner’s name and contact information, the location of the incident, and photographs of your injuries. Seek medical treatment for your injuries, and save all of your paperwork. Next, contact an attorney or claim with the pet owner’s insurance company.
If the pet owner owns a home, their homeowner’s insurance carrier will often offer coverage for dog bite injuries since dogs are considered property under the law. The insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to your personal injury case when you file your initial claim. Avoid going into detail about the incident with the adjuster before consulting with an attorney.
After investigating the incident, the adjuster will either accept your claim and offer a settlement or deny the claim altogether. A dog bite attorney in Sierra Vista can communicate with the insurance company on your behalf and will typically negotiate a much larger settlement from the insurance company than they would have offered you had you not obtained legal counsel.
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Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Arizona
Even after we help you file a lawsuit, you can still be offered a substantial settlement. In fact, the majority of Arizona personal injury cases settle before going to trial.
There is a common misconception that filing a lawsuit means presenting your case before a jury. However, filing a lawsuit does not mean you will need to go to trial to resolve your claim.
Settlement Conferences, Mediation, and Arbitration
When you file a personal injury lawsuit, the court will usually schedule a settlement conference. At a settlement conference, attorneys and their clients meet with either a judge or a settlement officer. The purpose of a settlement conference is to determine whether the parties can reach a settlement amount they can agree on.
As another alternative to taking a personal injury case to a jury trial, the parties might agree to alternative dispute resolution, such as arbitration or mediation.
Our experienced dog bite lawyers in Sierra Vista can explore different dispute resolution methods with you and go over the pros and cons of each option.
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Time Limit for Filing a Dog Bite Claim in Arizona
Keep in mind that the deadline for filing a lawsuit in an Arizona personal injury case is relatively short. Arizona statute, A.R.S. §12-542, gives dog bite survivors and other personal injury victims just two years from the date of the incident to take legal action for damages arising from their injuries.
If you fail to sue within this time period, you will no longer be able to pursue compensation for the injuries resulting from the incident. This deadline comes quickly and is one of many reasons you should hire a Sierra Vista dog bite lawyer to represent you as soon as possible. A knowledgeable attorney will help you meet all important deadlines in your case.
Even after you file the lawsuit, your attorney will continue working to pursue a fair settlement offer in your case.
Contact a Sierra Vista Dog Bite Attorney Today
Ideally, you should hire a lawyer to represent your dog bite claim from the very beginning. Our team at Zanes Law can investigate your case and draw up a claim that demands full compensation for your losses, including pain and suffering. Then, we can negotiate your settlement for you while you relax and focus on healing.
Our Sierra Vista dog bite attorney will make sure the dog owner’s insurance company doesn’t take advantage of you. As experienced trial lawyers, we have the knowledge and resources to fight for you in court if a jury trial is needed to recover the compensation you need. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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