Being injured or bitten by a dog can be a traumatic, serious and frightening experience. Injuries from the attack itself can lead to infections, scarring and sometimes expensive, lengthy and invasive medical treatment. You may have a substantial claim. Under Arizona law, the owner or person responsible for a dog is strictly liable for injuries and damages. If you or someone you know has been attacked or injured by a dog, our firm can help you investigate and pursue the claim. To determine the seriousness and level of such a claim please contact our office for a free consultation.
Liability for dog bites are governed by a separate set of Arizona statutes. An owner of a dog, or the persons responsible for a dog which injures someone is “strictly liable” for personal injuries.
A.R.S. § 11-1025 “Liability for dog bites” provides:
- The owner of a dog which bites a person when the person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of its viciousness.
- Nothing in this section or in section 11-1020 shall permit the bringing of an action for damages against any governmental agency using a dog in military or police work if the bite occurred while the dog was defending itself from a harassing or provoking act, or assisting an employee of the agency in any of the following:
- In the apprehension or holding of a suspect where the employee has a reasonable suspicion of the suspect's involvement in criminal activity.
- In the investigation of a crime or possible crime.
- In the execution of a warrant.
- In the defense of a peace officer or another person.
- Subsection B of this section shall not apply in any case where the victim of the bite was not a party to, nor a participant in, nor suspected to be a party to or a participant in, the act that prompted the use of the dog in the military or police work.
- Subsection B of this section shall apply only where a governmental agency using a dog in military or police work has adopted a written policy on the necessary and appropriate use of a dog for the police or military work enumerated in subsection B of this section.
A.R.S. § 11-1020 “Dogs; liability” specifically provides:
- Injury to any person or damage to any property by a dog while at large shall be the full responsibility of the dog owner or person or persons responsible for the dog when such damages are inflicted.
Arizona case law is clear, dogs do not get “one free bite.” Owners are strictly liable for injuries caused by their dogs and liability is imposed without regard to an owner’s knowledge of the dog’s viciousness. Massey v. Colaric, 151 Ariz. 65, 66, 725 P.2d 1099, 1100.
Under Arizona’s leash law, A.R.S. § 11-1012, owners are also required to keep their dogs confined by an enclosure on the owner’s property, or on a leash no greater than 6 feet in length and directly under the owner’s control.
A dog can be euthanized by the State if it viciously attacks someone. The animal control division of the county where the injury occurred has the power to petition the court to have such an animal destroyed. The owner or person responsible for such dog can also face criminal liability. The injured party has victim’s rights and can be heard at these proceedings.
Please call our office should you or someone you know suffer such an injury as a result of a dog bite or being attacked by a dog.
Call Ben Green: