Dog Bite Liability Laws in Phoenix

HutzlerLaw May 19, 2022

Following a dog attack in the Phoenix area, you’ll likely find yourself wondering what dog attack laws apply. Can you seek compensation after a dog bite? Who bears liability for a dog attack?

Take a look at dog bite liability laws in Phoenix and how they may impact your right to compensation following a dog attack.


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Arizona’s Strict Liability Law

Arizona has a strict liability law for dog attacks. According to A.R.S. 11-1025, the dog owner bears liability for any damage caused by the dog under various circumstances.

When the Victim Visits Public Property?

Dog owners in Phoenix must keep their dogs on leashes at all times. Phoenix City Code 8-14 notes that dogs must remain on leash at city parks, canals, and streets. Dogs must either remain confined on the owner’s property or go out on a leash that does not exceed six feet. A person who enters that public property has the right to expect a safe experience, including a lack of potential dog attacks. Dog owners must keep their animals strictly under control.

When the Victim Lawfully Enters Private Property?

If you have the legal right to visit a specific property, the dog’s owner should control the animal to ensure that you do not suffer a devastating dog attack. In the case of a known vicious dog, that might mean securing the animal so it cannot reach guests. If you enter the property illegally, however, the dog’s owner may not bear liability in the event of an attack. Illegally entering the property might include trespassing, particularly with intent to do harm or vandalize the property.


Does It Matter if the Dog Has Attacked Before?

In some states, dogs get a “one bite” pass: the dog’s owner will not bear liability for the first attack, but if the dog has a known habit of vicious behavior, biting, or attacks, the dog’s owner may bear liability for future attacks.

In Phoenix, however, dog owners bear liability for any damages caused the first time the dog attacks, regardless of the dog’s prior behavior. It does not matter if the dog has a habit of vicious behavior or if the dog owner did not know about the dog’s vicious behavior; the dog’s owner will still bear liability for the attack.


Compensation After a Dog Attack: What to Expect

Arizona law holds a dog owner strictly liable any time a dog attacks, which means the dog’s owner will need to pay any damages related to the attack. Talk to a lawyer about the damages you sustained due to the dog owner’s negligent actions and what compensation you might ask for from the dog’s owner. Compensation may break down into several clear categories following a dog attack.

#1. Compensation for Your Medical Bills

Getting compensation for your medical bills can prove of paramount importance after a dog attack:

  1. You may have an expensive emergency room visit to cover.
  2. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may need follow-up appointments with your care provider, including an appointment to remove stitches.
  3. In some cases, you may need to pursue compensation for physical therapy after the dog attack.

You may have ongoing medical costs, including hospitalizations, if you suffer an infection.

Talk to your lawyer about the medical bills associated with a dog attack. Your lawyer may advise waiting until you have passed the risk of infection or other serious complications before you start moving forward with the claim. Your claim must include all the medical costs you have faced due to the attack.

#2. Compensation for Wage Loss Related to the Attack

If you miss out on income directly due to the dog attack, you may have the right to claim compensation for that lost income under Arizona law. You may have missed time at work due to several potential issues arising from the dog attack.

For example, a bite on your hand could interfere with typing dexterity or even make it impossible for you to complete any job responsibilities that include typing. A more vicious attack could prevent you from managing many physical activities, including working in a warehouse or taking care of customers on a sales floor.

Your employer may want you to wait until you recover from the attack before returning to work. Talk to your lawyer about any lost income you may have faced due to the dog attack.

#3. Compensation for Psychological Treatment Expenses

Dog attacks often cause a great deal of trauma for victims. Frequently, victims can suffer from increased challenges like anxiety or PTSD. They may struggle around dogs, which could make it difficult for them to get outside or engage in many activities they usually enjoy with friends or family members.

Often, you may need to pursue psychological treatment for your anxiety, depression, or PTSD after a dog attack. Your psychological treatment expenses count as medical expenses, and you can pursue compensation for that psychological treatment and treatment for your other injuries.

#4. Compensation for Your Suffering

In addition to compensation for the various tangible, clearly-defined financial elements of suffering you may have faced after a dog attack, you can pursue compensation for the intangible suffering that may have gone along with your injuries.

Dog attack victims often suffer immense trauma. You may find it difficult to go around even well-loved family members’ animals or even to spend time with your own dog after an attack.

Furthermore, feeling that level of trauma can leave you struggling to engage in your favorite activities. You might have difficulty going to the park or heading to a store where you know you will encounter a dog. You might even find yourself avoiding family members’ homes when you know they have dogs in the home.

Talk to your lawyer about how the suffering after a dog attack has impacted your life. Your lawyer can help you determine how to pursue compensation for those losses as part of a dog bite injury claim.


Who Pays for a Dog Attack in Phoenix?

To obtain compensation after a dog attack, you may need to know where to seek compensation for your injuries and losses. Talk to a lawyer about who will likely bear liability for the dog attack.

Insurance Policies

Often, people carry insurance policies that will help protect them in an accident caused by their negligence, including a dog attack.

Homeowner’s Insurance Policies

A homeowner’s insurance policy will often cover any damages caused by a dog, even if the dog left the property or the attack occurred on public property. Homeowner’s insurance may require dog owners to disclose dog ownership and, in some cases, to carry specific riders designed to protect the dog owner in the event of an attack.

Renter’s Insurance Policies

Like homeowner’s insurance policies, renter’s insurance policies may offer some compensation for a dog attack. Talk to a lawyer about what coverage the liable party may have and how it may influence the compensation you can recover after an attack.

The Dog’s Owner

In some cases, if the dog’s owner does not carry insurance or the insurance company denies payment for the incident, you may have the right to pursue compensation from the dog’s owner directly. The dog’s owner, according to Arizona law, bears direct, strict liability for any incident involving the dog.


When Does the Victim Not Have the Right to Pursue Compensation After a Dog Attack?

In most cases, any time the victim of an attack suffers an injury due to a dog bite, that victim will have the right to pursue compensation for those injuries in Arizona. However, the law does provide for some cases in which an attack victim might not have the hoped-for ability to pursue compensation.

Trespassing

Many dog owners have dogs, in part, to help protect their property. Furthermore, dogs often feel very territorial about their properties. If a trespasser enters the property illegally and the dog attacks, the victim may not have the right to pursue compensation.

Provocation

In some cases, the dog attack victim may not have the right to pursue compensation for the attack due to provoking the dog. Even the most mild-mannered dog can attack under the right circumstances, especially if pushed to the attack.

Provocation could include tugging at the dog, hitting or kicking it, attacking it directly, or deliberately annoying it. Furthermore, provocation could include attacking a member of the dog’s family that the dog generally feels inclined to protect.

Military and Police Animals

Arizona dog bite law does note some exceptions for military and police dogs. If the military or police dog assisted the appropriate agency in the apprehension or holding of a suspect, in the investigation of a crime, or in defense of a peace officer or other person present at the time of the incident, the city may not bear liability for the actions of the dog. The city may, however, bear liability for the dog’s actions if the dog attacks without provocation or reason.


Punitive Damages in Dog Attacks

Sometimes, in the case of gross negligence on the dog owner’s part, the court may assign punitive damages to the dog’s owner directly. Punitive damages punish the dog’s owner for the damages caused by that act of negligence.


What to Do After a Dog Attack?

Seek immediate medical attention if you suffer dog bite injuries after a dog attacks you. Dog bites have a high risk of causing infection, and you could end up with more serious injuries if you put off medical care.

Next, follow these key steps to help protect your right to compensation and raise the odds that you will recover the damages you deserve after a dog attack.

  • Get all relevant information about the dog, including the name and contact information of the owner.
  • Check the dog’s vaccination status. An unvaccinated dog may have a higher risk of passing on known diseases, including rabies. Rabies treatment needs to begin as soon as possible if needed.
  • Report the incident to Animal Control. Animal Control can determine whether it needs to pick the dog up, contact the dog’s owner, or take other actions. Having a report against the dog can also help decrease the risk that a dangerous dog will continue causing damage in the area.
  • Contact a lawyer to discuss your rights and your next steps after a dog attack. You may need a lawyer to help you determine how to best file compensation for your dog attack injuries, including who will need to accept liability for the attack and the payments.

If you have questions about your right to compensation after a dog attack, a lawyer can help you learn more about your next steps: who to sue, how to deal with the insurance company, and how much compensation you might deserve for your injuries.


Will a Dog Get Put Down After a Phoenix Dog Bite?

In most cases, the city will not put down a dog that has only attacked once. However, in the case of repeat attacks, a vicious animal, or particularly vicious attacks, the city may decide that protecting area residents means putting down the dog.


Contact a Lawyer for Help with Your Dog Bite Claim in Phoenix

If you suffered injuries in a dog attack in Phoenix, having a lawyer on your side can make it much easier to pursue and obtain the compensation you may deserve for those injuries.

Contact a dog bite lawyer as soon after the incident as possible to learn more about your rights and what steps you may need to take following an attack.

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