Can You Sue a Dog Owner for a Dog Bite?


Being the victim of a dog biting incident can be one of the most traumatic experiences of a person’s life. At first you will no doubt suffer from pain and upset, but this can quickly be followed by anger and the thought of how this was allowed to happen to you. Although it may not be at the forefront of your mind when the event takes place, it is important to know your rights with regards to having been the victim of a dog bite.

With every state having slightly different laws, it is key that you gain the correct information for here in Arizona in order to act appropriately and avoid further stress or confusion. Knowing your rights will empower you to make a decision on how to react, what options you have, and whether you really need to avail the services of a personal injury lawyer.

Can You Sue a Dog Owner for a Dog Bite?

In answer to the question posed, yes, you can sue a dog owner for a dog bite. However, this is not a straightforward process and there are some key points that you should bear in mind if you want to move forward with this action. The first thing to note is that in some states, dog owners are able to get away with their dogs biting somebody for the first time, and actions can only be taken against them for subsequent dog bites. But this is not the case in Arizona, whereby dog owners are responsible and liable for any bites carried out by their dogs, even if it is their first offense.

Dog Bite Statute of Limitations

Time-frames are not something you would probably think to consider following a dog bite, but your time will more than likely be taken up with recovery and ensuring your personal well-being and mindset. You should be aware that there are time-frames surrounding dog bite claims in Arizona. Depending on the situation, some instances of dog bites will see you having to make a claim against the owner within 2 years of the incident (ARS 12-542), whereas some common law rules will require you to make a claim within 1 year of the incident(ARS 12-541). Acting quickly following the bite is key, and if you are unsure of timings that apply to your case then do check with a legal professional.

Dog Attack Claims: What to Consider

Location Matters

The location in which the offence took place is a key element in deciding whether or not you are able to move forward and make a claim to sue the dog owner. You are able to proceed with a claim should the offence takes place in a public environment, or in a private property that you were lawfully able to pass through or reside in. Do take into account that lawfully being on a property covers such instances as being invited to visit friends or for lawful work purposes. Location dependent circumstances that would negatively impact a claim in the eyes of the law would be whereby the victim was unlawfully residing in a private place, or whereby ‘dangerous’ or ‘vicious’ dog notices were clearly visible on entering the private land, but the victim ignored these warnings.

The Dog’s Temperament

Some people often question whether or not the temperament of the dog involved has any bearing on proceedings and whether or not the owner can be sued. It is necessary for the dog bite victim to remember that the owner’s previous knowledge of their dog’s temperament will hold no bearing in the case. For example, if the owner only knows their dog to have been well-behaved and non-aggressive in the past, this does not mean that they would be pardoned should their dog becomes vicious and bites a person.

Dog Common Law

Aside from specific laws governing dog bites and those applicable for public or private properties, there are also some common laws regarding dogs that you should bear in mind following a dog biting incident. Common law negligence spans more general areas around animals and their behavior. These general rulings cover appropriate housing and restraint for animals, in this case dogs.

Perhaps the dog bite incident took place where a dog had escaped from its owner’s property, or perhaps it was in a public place and the dog had been let off of its leash. Both of these situations would be looked down upon and see it possible to make a claim against the dog owner. Dogs on the loose are not the only scenario covered by common law negligence and you should consult your lawyer should you wish to clarify your specific situation to see where you stand.

What Makes a Weak Dog Bite Case

You might be asking what would make a weak case when you are eager to sue a dog owner following a dog bite incident. A weak case would follow if it transpires that the victim provoked the dog involved in anyway. If it is unclear to you as to what constitutes provocation of a dog, you should consult your legal professional before proceeding; as owners cannot be held responsible should their dogs have been provoked resulting in a bite.

Compensation for Dog Bite Recovery

Justice for the victim is always key in any claim, but of course the monetary compensation that can be sought following suing the dog owner will help in recovery. Following a successful claim, compensation amounts are often covered by the dog owner’s insurance and are paid out in order to aid the victim with covering expenses accrued following the attack. These expenses will include any medical bills, loss of income due to taking time away from work, or any counseling sought following the trauma.

What to Do Next

For certain, nobody would hope to be put in a position where they fear for their safety. Suffering a dog bite is no exception and how you handle the aftermath should not be taken lightly. With dog bites being a fairly common occurrence in the state of Arizona, you have to know how to move forward appropriately when handling claims against the dog owner. Hopefully you now feel a little more confident in dealing with suffering from a dog bite and moving forward with claiming compensation.

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

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