A Statute of Limitations is usually a codified or statutory prescription that sets forth the maximum time after an event that a civil action based on that event may be initiated. In Arizona, the Statute of Limitations varies depending on the type of civil actions.

A dog bite claim is a very common personal injury claim in Arizona and in other states. In a previous article (Arizona Dog Bit Law), we discussed the different ways that a dog bite victim can recover from an at-fault dog owner. In Arizona, dog bite victims can either (1) bring a claim against the dog’s owner under Arizona’s strict liability dog-bite law, and/or (2) bring a negligence claim against the dog’s owner under the common law.

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.

Under Arizona strict liability statute, the dog-bite victim’s window to bring a claim against the dog’s owner (the Statute of Limitations) is a relatively short ONE YEAR from the date the injury occurred.

DOG BITE NEGLIGENCE CLAIM

Negligence is usually defined as an unreasonable action, or the failure to take a reasonable action. See this article for a more complete description of negligence. 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.

Importantly, the time period (the Statute of Limitations) during which a victim may bring a negligence claim based on a dog-bite is TWO YEARS from the date the injury occurred.

It is important to consider the different Statute of Limitation time periods for dog-bite claims. For example, it is much easier to successfully make a dog-bite claim under Arizona strict liability statute. However, if you wait longer than one year to make the claim, you will be barred from seeking recover under that easier theory of liability. If you wait longer than one year, you will be restricted to making a negligence claim only, which theory of liability may be much more difficult to establish.

If you or a loved one have been injured by a dog or any other domestic animal, please call us for a free consultation. Remember, it important to gather as much information as possible as early as possible.