Each day, about 1,000 U.S. citizens require emergency care treatment for dog bite injury. In Arizona, victims of dog bites have two ways to seek recovery from at-fault dog owners for their injuries: (1) Bring a claim against the dog's owner under Arizona's strict liability dog-bite law, or (2) Bring a negligence claim against the dog's owner under the common law.
Both options have advantages and disadvantages; however, recovery under statutory law is generally considered easier than recovery under a negligence claim. In fact, the Arizona legislature enacted the strict liability dog-bite statute because victims were having difficulty bringing successful negligence claims against dog owners. The Arizona strict liability dog-bite statutes do not replace common law liability; therefore it is common to proceed simultaneously under both statutory law and common law theories.
ARIZONA'S DOG BITE LAW
ARS § 11-1025 was enacted to expand protection for dog-bite victims. This statute makes dog owners strictly liable for their dogs' behavior. An injured party or a plaintiff does not have to prove that the dog owner should have known the dog was vicious nor must the plaintiff prove the owner failed to take reasonable steps to secure the dog. Unless the victim provoked the dog, the dog's owner is the responsible party for his or her dog's actions. The victim's window to bring a claim against the dog's owner is a relatively short one year time period.
DOG BITE NEGLIGENCE CLAIM
Negligence is usually defined as an unreasonable action, or the failure to take a reasonable action. A successful dog-bite claim under a negligence theory requires the plaintiff to prove the dog's owner failed to use reasonable care in preventing foreseeable injuries by his or her dog, and that failure resulted in injury to the plaintiff. Reasonable care may involve keeping the dog on a leash, or away from small children, especially if the dog is known to play too roughly. A negligence claim has a statute of limitations of two years. For more on negligence claims in general see our previous article entitled "I Was Injured, Do I Have a Case?"
If you or a loved one have been injured by a dog or any other domestic animal, please call us for a free consultation.