ARS 12-541: Time Limitations on Dog Bite Reports


In Arizona, there is at least one dog present in one-third of all households. Just by the prevalence of the number of dogs, it is not unusual for a person to be bitten. If you have suffered a dog bite, you need to know that the law is on your side.

You can claim expenses for medical treatment or even loss of employment should you not be able to work. In fact, it is your responsibility as a victim to report the bite. The state collects statistics about the bites and requires owners to take action if their dogs are deemed to be dangerous.

However, according to Arizona revised statue 12 541, there is a limit on reporting a dog bite. If you have been bitten, it is important that you understand the limitations; as you may have suffered damages from the bite that did affect your health and possibly your ability to work or caused a disfigurement that may take a number of procedures to rectify.

According to the statue of 12 541 in Arizona law, you have to report the bite within a year of the incident taking place. The start of the timeline is the day you were bitten. In a dog bite circumstance, you would file a personal injury lawsuit.

Two Year Limit

Arizona Revised Statute 12 542 allows a two-year limit. However, this involves an injury caused by another person. Perhaps the person ordered the dog to attack you, or perhaps the person let the dog off the leash intentionally. However, in either of these cases, you would have to prove the validity of the details of the incidence. A more defend-able case would respect the one year limit, and all people who suffer dog bites are encouraged to report within a year to simplify matters. But if you miss the deadline for filing the claim, you can expect that the owner will request a dismissal of the case and the court would most likely rule in favor of the dog owner.

The location of the bite incident, whether it be in public or private areas, does not play a role in dismissing the case. Even if the bite occurred in the owner’s property, the responsibility of the owner is to control the dog so that no harm is done. However, if you were illegally in the owner’s property and especially if the property was signed that a vicious dog was present, the owner could use these facts in defense of the bite. If you were committing a crime such as a burglary, it is likely that you will have no recourse about a dog bite. While in law there is no condition for provocation, in practicality, if the victim provoked the dog by kicking, hitting or taunting the dog, there is some defense for the bite. However, stretching your hand out to pat the dog would not qualify.

Other Injuries Besides a Bite

Suppose that the dog did not bite you but charged you and knocked you over, breaking your arm. If you were just walking down the street and the dog rushed at you, you would need to prove that the owner did not leash or contain the dog. These other injuries are not delineated by law, but the nature of such a circumstance would likely be in your favor in a court of law. Due to the reporting system, some dogs are identified as being vicious. This can occur after just one bite. If a dog is deemed vicious, the owner must keep it in a pen and have signs on the property indicating that the dog is vicious.

How Many Bites Until a Dog is Labeled as “Vicious”?

In some states, a dog must earn the label of vicious and there must be the first free bite stipulation in place. So many people in Arizona have the opinion that the first bite has no consequences. But in Arizona, all bites have the same significance and implications for the owner and the dog.

What Happens to the Dog

After a biting incident, the dog must be quarantined at the owner’s home for a week. But if the owner cannot produce any evidence of vaccination, then the dog is quarantined in a veterinary location or at the dog pound at the owner’s expense. If the injuries are serious or if the frequencies of occurrences are enough the dog may be euthanized, however this option should be avoided if possible.

Suggestions for Dog Owners

When you become an owner of a dog, it is vital that you are responsible for the care of your dog; but you are also responsible for the behavior. The following are this you should consider as a dog owner:

  • Take your dog to training and obtain a certificate of completion
  • Provide regular check-ups from a veterinarian so that you know your dog is in good health and not suffering pain or discomfort
  • Investigate your home insurance plan to make sure it will cover you adequately in the case your dog does bite someone (you may need up to one million dollars coverage if an unfortunate incident occurs)
  • Always keep the dog under your control by using a leash or keep the dog in a fenced yard. If your dog does tend to be aggressive, use a muzzle to prevent serious injury to others.

What to Do After Receiving an Injury

It is crucial for you to seek medical assistance immediately, as there will be a record of your visit. Do not worry about the legal consequences until the bite has been treated. But make the report of the bite as soon as you can. Be mindful of the one-year limitation statute.

Now comes the tricky decision – are you going to claim compensations? In some circumstances, the injury is minor and the owner is your next door neighbor. In the spirit of community, you may decide to waive your rights.

However, if the bite has caused severe damages, seek out legal help as soon as you can. You have a right to compensation. Hopefully, your neighbor has insurance and you can come to an agreeable settlement with involving the courts.

Call our Personal Injury team at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.

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