Like many other states, Arizona has a law which protects the public from dangerous dogs. This law affords victims of dog bites the legal option of pursuing compensation from the owner for items like medical bills, lost wages, disfigurement and other non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
Arizona’s law is what is called a strict liability statute. Basically, this means an owner is financially responsible if his or her dog bites someone else, even if the owner took precautions to prevent the animal from biting someone. This is true even if the dog has never bitten anyone before and even if the owner had no idea that the dog was prone to biting someone.
There are a couple of exceptions to this rule. For one, in order for a person to get the protection of this law, he or she has to be either on public property or legally on private land at the time of the bite. By way of example, a burglar will not be able to use the statute to sue if he or she gets bitten while trying to break into a home or building.
The other exception applies to police dogs and dogs which are used in the military.
It is also important to note that this statute, by its terms, only applies to dogs. Phoenix residents may still have legal options after getting bitten by a house cat or some other pet, but they may not be able to use this law.
Although this law is helpful to victims, dog bite cases can still be complicated. For example, many times, a dog owner or his or her insurance company will not want to pay all the compensation to which a person is legally entitled. Having an attorney help with one’s dog bite claim may be important.