Dog ownership is on the rise in Arizona and across the country. These days, most families have at least one pet. Many households will even have more than one pet. While dogs can be excellent for their owners, it is not always the case for everyone else who comes into contact with them.

While family pets have a history of biting family members from time to time, most dog bites will happen to people outside the household. When this happens, dog owners can be legally responsible for the injuries that these animals cause.

Dog bite cases might seem straightforward, but they are often complicated. To make sure you receive full compensation for your injuries, always seek help from a Tucson dog bite attorney. Zanes Law Injury Lawyers is ready to help.

Arizona Law & Tucson Dog Bite Cases

Tucson Dog Bite LawyersIf you are unfortunate enough to have a dog bite you, it’s important you speak with a Zanes Law dog bite lawyer. We know the law and can hold the owner responsible so that you receive adequate compensation for your injuries. This is where the experienced Tucson dog bite attorneys at Zanes Law can help.

Dog bite laws vary by state. In Arizona, the statute of limitations gives victims one year to file a claim following an injury. This is called a “strict liability claim.” The claimant has to prove that a dangerous injury occurred and identify who was responsible. Arizona recognizes that if a victim sues within a year of the injury, the dog’s owner is strictly  liable. If the injured party does not file a lawsuit within a year, he or she can no longer file a strict liability claim. However, the victim can still file a negligence claim and has up to two years to do so. But it will be much more challenging to prove negligence. One of the best ways you can increase your odds of compensation is to file a claim as soon as the injury occurs. Get medical records of any treatment you receive, take photographs of the scene of the accident, and give a written record to the police of where and when the situation took place.

After a dog bite, find the dog owner!

There are many factors that decrease the odds of a victim winning a dog bite injury case. Therefore, it is imperative you hire the Zanes Law Tucson dog bite attorneys. In order to bring your claim, we will need to know the dog owner’s location and personal information. If the dog attacked you when no one was around, it will be difficult to ascertain who owns the dog. This makes it impossible to find an insurance policy to cover your injuries.

If you’re fortunate enough to know who the dog owner is, it’s crucial that you don’t threaten him or her. Inquire calmly about the owner’s insurance so that you can professionally and legally file the claim. If the defendant does not have homeowners insurance or if the policy doesn’t cover hazardous animal attacks, you might be able to sue the homeowner if you can prove that he or she owns the dog and that the dog was responsible.

Millions of People Suffer Dog Bite Injuries Each Year

Nationwide, over 48 million households have a dog, and pet-friendly businesses and buildings are making it much easier to own one

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are an average of approximately 4.5 million dog bites in the United States each year. Over 70 percent of dog bites happen to non-family members. Almost a million people each year require some sort of medical attention for a dog bite, including over 300,000 emergency room visits every year. Most of the people who needed emergency care were children between the ages of five and nine.

Medical bills alone for critical dog bite care could top $30,000. They could rise even more if the victim needs one or more surgeries to correct the damage. Dog bites can even be fatal. Worldwide, dogs are actually the fourth most dangerous creature in existence. In the United States, 30 to 50 people die due to dog bite injuries in a given year. For survivors, some injuries can cause long-lasting effects on their lives.

Common Injuries From Dog Bites

Injuries from dog bites can range from mild to severe. They include:

  • Puncture wounds
  • Lacerations
  • Nerve damage
  • Infections
  • Fractures
  • The need for rabies shots

These injuries can all take a physical and mental toll on the dog bite victim. Not only are they dealing with doctors, but they must remember the trauma of being helpless as a dangerous animal attacked them. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common following dog bites.

The Breeds of Dogs Most Likely to Bite

Dog bite attacks could occur with many breeds. Most people think of pit bulls as being the most dangerous breed of dog, and roughly two-thirds of dog bite attacks involve pit bulls.

However, other breeds can be dangerous, including:

  • Rottweilers
  • German shepherds
  • Dobermans
  • Bulldogs
  • Bullmastiffs

Why Dogs Attack Small Children Most Often

While anyone can suffer a dog attack and injuries, small children are most likely to suffer serious injuries. Dogs often view themselves in competition with small children for territory. At the same time, children do not always know how to approach dogs and how to read the cues from a growling dog. Despite this, the dog owner would usually still be responsible when their dog bites a small child.

Small children are on a different physical level with dogs than adults. Where dogs may bite adults on their arms and legs, they will bite the head and neck of small children. This is when children can suffer severe life-altering and disfiguring injuries.

There Is No One Free Bite in Arizona

Many people with a basic understanding of the law associate dog attacks with the one free bite rule. This says that dog bite owners are only liable when they know that their dog is dangerous. That is NOT the law in Arizona. Instead, Arizona is a strict liability state. If the dog bites you, the owner must pay for your losses unless a very limited number of affirmative defenses apply.

It does not matter whether the owner knew that the dog was capable of biting you or not. When they assume ownership of a pet, they assume legal responsibility for what that pet does and any injuries that they cause.

Strict Liability Applies to Bites Only

Tucson Dog Bite AttorneysArizona strict liability applies only to dog bites, as opposed to other damage the dog might cause. For example, if a dog jumps on top of someone and they sustain injuries falling to the ground, the law of negligence applies. The same thing applies if someone suffers injuries trying to escape a menacing dog. The owner could still be legally responsible, but a different test applies. Here, you would need to show that the owner acted unreasonably in failing to prevent their dog from attacking you. It is only when the dog bites that there are few questions asked before finding the owner responsible.

When Tucson Dog Bite Victims Can Recover Compensation

The other legal requirement for strict liability under Arizona law is that the dog bite victim was in a public place or a permissible private place at the time of the attack.

This could include:

  • The owner’s dog attacking an invited guest to the home
  • A delivery person gets attacked when they are attempting to place a package on the doorstep (if you suffered injuries while on the job, you may have a possible lawsuit against the owner as well as a workers’ compensation claim. Zanes Law Injury Lawyers can help in both areas, and we could help you figure out your appropriate legal options).

Dog owners would not necessarily need to pay when their dog bites a trespasser or intruder. However, most dog bites happen when the victim has a legal right to be where they are or when they are out and about in public.

Defenses Dog Owners and Their Insurance Companies May Use

Once you show that you suffered a dog bite, there are very few questions of liability. The most common way an owner may try to fight liability is by claiming that you were responsible for the injury by “provoking” the dog. Even that type of defense has limitations.

Provoking a dog is usually something that would cause a sudden and radical change in their behavior. It would include things like continually teasing or hurting a dog. This is a very limited defense. After all, the average person knows better than to provoke a dangerous dog with sharp teeth, and proving provocation can be challenging for dog owners. In addition, a different standard of provocation applies to children than to adults.

What to Do After a Tucson Dog Bite Injury

After you or a loved one suffers dog bite injuries:

  • Contact the police to come to the scene and issue a report. This could show that the dog bite actually happened and which dog bit you.
  • Get witness information from anyone who saw the attack.
  • Document the dog bite by taking pictures of it.
  • Get immediate medical help to treat your injuries.
  • Follow all of the doctor’s recommendations, especially as they relate to wound care.
  • Report the incident to local animal control.
  • Contact a dog bite attorney to begin exploring your legal options.

Dealing With the Insurance Claim Process

Dog bites and resulting injuries should fall under the dog owner’s insurance policy, which could be either a homeowners or renters policy. Insurance companies are very familiar with dog bite claims and tend to assign a standard value to them. After all, insurers paid almost $900 million in dog bite claims in 2020. They keep extensive statistics on what they pay, and the average in Arizona is slightly higher than the national average.

Insurers will do anything they can to minimize your payout on a dog bite claim, so it is extremely important to have legal representation. Our attorneys handle all negotiations with insurance companies on your behalf to ensure that they do not shortchange your claim.

How an Attorney Helps With Your Tucson Dog Bite Claim

AzTLA awards_logo4You may be wondering why you need an attorney when liability is often not in dispute. Even when nobody disputes liability, an insurance claim is not necessarily smooth sailing for an injured person. Not only does an attorney know the tricks of the insurance company, but they also know how to negotiate the settlement you deserve.

Insurance companies may make you an early settlement offer, hoping to get you to settle the claim for far less than its value. When they make you a settlement offer, you can count on it being inadequate compensation at first. Only when you have the right negotiating power can you get the insurance company to agree to pay a fair amount.

What You Can Receive in a Tucson Dog Bite Claim

Your dog bite compensation can include:

  • Payment for pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • Medical costs to treat the injury
  • Lost wages for time missed from work for either your injuries or time spent to care for an injured child
  • Emotional distress and trauma

Some of these damages can be even greater when dealing with a child. For example, the disfigurement could be far greater on a smaller body. The child may go through their entire life dealing with physical scars, and it can take a large toll on them. In addition, the trauma of a brutal dog attack could cause the child to bear emotional scars for years.

The Value of Your Tucson Dog Bite Claim

On your own, you may not even know what your claim is worth. You can assume that the insurance company will undervalue your claim. This is why you need a lawyer with experience handling dog bite claims to understand how much you should receive.

Just because State Farm data says that the average dog bite claim is worth roughly $43,000 does not mean that this is what your claim is worth. As far as you are concerned, there is no such thing as an average dog bite claim. What matters is your specific losses and damages.

Don’t Hesitate to File a Claim Regardless of Who the Owner Is

Some dog bite attacks are random, though most dog bite victims have some connection with the dog owner. A common scenario is that the dog bite victim is a guest in the home where the dog resides. Your child might have been at a playdate in the home when they get attacked.

Many people may hesitate to file a dog bite claim because it might be a friend’s dog. However, dog bites are covered by insurance policies up to the coverage limit. The average homeowner’s policy would cover between $100,000 to $300,000, which can be enough to compensate you for your losses in many cases. Chances are that your friend or family member may not even have to pay out of pocket, so they would not lose anything if you seek the compensation you deserve for your dog bite injuries.

Advice From A Tucson Animal Bite Lawyer

The following information is a good guide to follow if you have experienced a dog attack in Tucson. These steps will help you to solidify the legitimacy of your case. You must collect critical information that a Tucson dog bite attorney can use to help you obtain damages.

  • If it’s obvious who the dog’s owner is, ask about the person’s homeowners insurance while being as cordial possible. Getting this information is one of the best ways to smoothly obtain compensation because the policy might include coverage for dangerous animals.
  • If the owner doesn’t cooperate with you, call the police or Animal Control. These officers can help you by acting as a go-between and asking the dog owner about insurance on your behalf.
  • Record any evidence you can and include the date and time. Many smartphones have the ability to include real time data that may be permissible in court. It is helpful to know the location of the event, details about your injury, and how the situation unfolded. It will help your lawyer if you obtain any legal paperwork acknowledging the incident, such as medical treatment and police reports.
Doug Zanes

Doug Zanes, Tucson Dog Bite Injury Lawyer

Start the Legal Process With Our Tucson Dog Bite Lawyers

Act quickly when you are seeking compensation for a dog bite. You have a limited time to file a lawsuit for your injuries. In Arizona, the statute of limitations is two years, and remember that it takes time to negotiate with the insurance company, so you should allow some time for this process to unfold.

The longer you wait to file a claim or a personal injury lawsuit, the longer it will take to get your money. The legal process does not happen overnight. This is why you need to get started right after you or a loved one suffers injuries. Do not wait to speak with a Tucson dog bite attorney at Zanes Law Injury Lawyers. Contact us right away at (520) 777-7777 for your free case evaluation.

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Tucson, AZ 85712
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