The answer to that question depends upon the details of the incident, but yes, it is possible for an owner of a dog who bit another person to be criminally liable under Arizona law.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, there are approximately 70-80 million dogs owned by humans in the United States. While most of them serve as loving and playful companions, some have a greater tendency towards aggression.
In 2002, there were reportedly around 4.5 million people who suffered dog bites in this country, with nearly half of those being under the age of 12.
My dog bit someone. What am I liable for?
In Arizona, the owner and/or person(s) responsible for the dog may be legally obligated to pay for the victim’s damages. The victim may be entitled to compensation for the following:
- Injuries to or loss of life of pets attacked by the dog
- Medical care costs, ambulance charges, doctors’ fees, and emergency room costs
- Loss of earnings
- Estimated costs of future medical care
- Costs of repairing or replacing personal property
How am I supposed to pay for that?! Will my insurance help?
In most cases in AZ, victims are compensated by the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy. In 2002, it was estimated that homeowner’s insurance policy claims for dog bites paid out more than $1 billion.
Other types of insurance may also cover the damages including renter’s insurance, dog owner’s insurance, landlord’s insurance, or business insurance.
Can I be criminally charged if my dog bites someone in AZ?
While this is fairly uncommon, it is possible for you to face class 6 felony charges in Arizona if your dog bites another person and one or both of the following apply:
- The owner or responsible party knew or had reason to know that the dog had a propensity to attack, cause injury, or otherwise endanger the safety of others without being provoked.
- The dog has been found to be a vicious animal by a court or competent authority.
Is Arizona a “one free bite” state?
Some states have a dog bite law that allows for one “free bite,” or a warning. In those states, the owner or person responsible for the dog cannot be held liable for damages caused the first time their dog bites another person unless they knew or should have known that the dog had a propensity for aggression.
Arizona is not a one free bite state, and owners or responsible parties can be held liable for damages caused to the victim, even if it is the first time their dog attacked another person.
Defenses to Dog Bite Charges in Arizona
There are situations where you may not be held liable for your dog’s violence:
- The victim provoked the attack.
- The owner is a governmental agency, the dog is being utilized in military or police work, and the bite occurred while the dog was defending itself or assisting an employee of the agency.
Leash Laws in Arizona
Some local municipalities in Arizona have a leash law for dogs, meaning your dog must be on a leash anytime it is in a public area. If you are found to be in violation of this law, you may also be held liable under a negligence claim brought by the victim.
Are you facing criminal dog bite charges in AZ?
If your dog attacked another person and you are facing criminal charges, the defense attorneys from JacksonWhite can help protect your record. Our criminal lawyers will work to have the charge dropped and your penalties decreased or eliminated. Call a JacksonWhite criminal defense attorney today to schedule a free and private consultation at (480) 467-4370.
Click here to see how we’ve helped others dealing with criminal charges in Arizona.