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Tucson Dog Bite Lawyers

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Tucson Dog Bite Lawyers

Dogs in Tucson may attack suddenly and with little warning, causing serious injuries or fatalities. When dogs bite, the victims may be left with permanent disabilities, scarring, disfigurement, emotional harm and mounting expenses. By filing a lawsuit against the dog’s owner, you might be able to recover damages for the losses that you have suffered as a result of your attack. The Tucson dog bite lawyers at Lamber Goodnow are experienced in handling dog bite claims and have amassed a record of success for their clients. We can handle your case for you so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries.

Dog bite statistics

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, 34,151 Arizonans had to go to the emergency room after being bitten by dogs from 2008 to 2012, and 2,358 of them were hospitalized.[1] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that an average of 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the U.S. each year, and 20 percent of the bites become infected.[2] Those who are most at risk of being bitten by dogs are children who are between the ages of five and nine and men. People may be bitten by dogs in public or while they are visiting others on private property.

Tucson Dog Bite Lawyers

Types of injuries from dog attacks

People who are attacked by dogs may suffer a number of different injuries, including the following:

  • Avulsions and tissue loss
  • Lacerations
  • Abrasions
  • Fractures
  • Puncture wounds
  • Severe infections
  • Sprains and strains
  • Crushing injuries
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Anxiety and other emotional harms

Some dog attacks may leave the victims facing lifelong disabilities and disfigurement that permanently reduce their abilities to enjoy life. Because of the potential harm, the state provides strict liability for dog owners when their dogs attack others in certain cases.

The Arizona dog bite statute and strict liability

Under A.R.S. § 11-1025, dog owners will be liable to pay damages when their dogs bite other people who are in a public place or who are on the private property lawfully. The law is a strict liability statute, meaning that the victims do not need to prove that the owners had previous knowledge that their dogs had a propensity to bite others. This is different than some states that follow what is known as a one-bite rule. In those states, plaintiffs must also prove an additional element of the dog owner’s knowledge of the dog’s propensity to bite from a prior incident. Since Arizona is a strict liability state, the knowledge element is not required.

Provocation: When liability might not exist

Dog owners may raise a defense to their strict liability for dog bites under A.R.S. § 11-1027. Under this statute, the dog’s owner may not be held liable for a dog attack if he or she is able to show that the victim provoked the dog. Provocation is determined under the reasonable person standard, which is whether or not a reasonable person would consider the victim’s actions to be provoking to a dog.[4]

Common law negligence claims for dog bites

It is also possible to pursue claims against dog owners or possessors under negligence laws. Victims may choose to pursue negligence claims against the possessors of dogs since the strict liability statute only provides for liability against the dogs’ owners. For example, if a dog walker fails to keep a dog on a leash in a public park, and the dog subsequently bites someone, the victim might sue the dog walker under a theory of negligence. The courts have ruled that victims can pursue claims under the dog bite statute as well as under negligence theories simultaneously.[5] People might choose to file negligence claims and strict liability claims so that they can potentially recover more types of damages. They may also choose to file negligence claims alone if they have missed the shorter statute of limitations under the strict liability law.

Statute of limitations

In Arizona, the courts have found that the statute of limitations for a dog bite claim under the strict liability statute falls under A.R.S. § 12-541 as a liability that is created by a statute. This limitations period is only one year from the date of the incident. Negligence claims involving personal injuries have longer statutes of limitations under A.R.S. § 12-542. It is important for victims to seek help from the Tucson dog bite attorneys at Lamber Goodnow as soon as possible so that they can preserve their rights to recover damages.

Damages in dog bite cases

The amount of damages that might be recoverable will depend on the specific circumstances and facts of an individual case. In general, victims may recover the following types of damages:

  • Past and future expected medical costs
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Past and future expected income losses
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Funeral and burial expenses in wrongful death claims
  • Loss of consortium for spouses

Homeowners’ insurance policies and renters’ insurance policies normally provide coverage for dog bites. If you are bitten by a dog, your attorney may negotiate on your behalf with the responsible insurance company in order to try to secure a settlement that fairly compensates you. Your attorney may assess your claim and offer you a range of values of what it should be worth so that you have an idea of what you might expect in a fair settlement.

FAQs: Dog Bite Lawyers Tucson

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that an estimated 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs every year. DogBites.org reports that 48 Americans were killed in dog attacks in 2019. Children and older adults are much likelier to suffer serious injuries or fatalities when they are attacked by dogs.

When you or a loved one suffers a dog bite in Tucson, you may have legal rights. At Lamber Goodnow, our dog bite lawyers Tucson frequently field questions about dog bites and the legal rights that victims have. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions that we receive to provide you with more information about dog bites and your rights.

 

Q: What should I do if I encounter an aggressive dog?

A: If you encounter a dog that is acting aggressively and is not under its owner’s control, there are a few things that you should do. Do not run or turn your back to the dog. Instead, slowly back away. Avoid yelling at the dog and speak in calm tones. Do not make eye contact with the dog. If it starts to lunge at you, try to put a jacket, purse, or another object in between your body and the dog. If the dog starts attacking you, lie down on the ground in a fetal position while protecting your head and face with your arms.

Immediately after a dog bite, you should get help. Try to figure out where a loose dog belongs and who owns it. Call the police and report the attack. Make sure to seek medical attention immediately. If the dog is a stray or its vaccination history cannot be determined, you may have to get rabies shots. Get copies of the police report and the medical reports from the treatment of your injuries. Having documentation of your injuries and the attack can be helpful if you decide to file an injury claim.

Q: What types of injuries commonly occur in dog bite attacks?

A: When dogs attack, they commonly bite the victims’ nose, face, legs, and arms. People often suffer such injuries as bruising, puncture wounds, and emotional trauma. Older adults and children tend to suffer more serious injuries, including fractures, deep bruising, permanent scarring, and eye injuries. If victims do not seek immediate medical treatment for their bite injuries, they can develop secondary infections that can lead to severe problems and potential death. Because of the potential for dangerous infections, people who are bitten by dogs should go to their doctors or the emergency department immediately.

Q: How much might I recover from a dog bite claim?

A: The amount of monetary compensation that you might receive will depend on a number of factors, including the severity of your injuries, your likelihood of recovery, and whether you did anything to provoke the dog. The dog owner’s insurance may also place limitations on your recovery amount. Because the facts of each case differ, it is not possible to provide you with a quote of the value of your claim without analyzing the evidence.

People who suffer dog bites may be entitled to recover compensatory damages for their economic and non-economic losses. Some of the types of damages that you might receive include the following:

  • Past and future medical costs related to your injuries
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Property losses
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Psychological injuries
  • Disability
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of consortium or guidance for spouses and children in wrongful death cases
  • Funeral and burial costs in wrongful death cases

Q: Are specific breeds banned in Arizona?

A:  In 2016, Gov. Ducey signed Senate Bill 1248 into law. This bill amended A.R.S. § 9-499.04. Under the amended statute, breed-specific legislation in Arizona is banned. Cities may enact animal control legislation, but it cannot be specific to any breed. This means that there are no statewide or municipal bans for specific dog breeds regardless of the dangers they might pose.

Insurance companies classify certain breeds as more dangerous than others for coverage purposes. Some of the breeds that are considered to present a greater risk of attacking others include the following:

  • Akita
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Boxer
  • Chihuahua
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Pit Bull
  • Rottweiler
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Wolf Hybrid
  • Great Dane

It is important to note that any dog may bite even if its breed is not considered to be dangerous. You should treat any strange dog with caution and avoid approaching it or trying to pet it.

Q: Am I required to report a dog bite? What will happen to a dog after I report it?

A: In Arizona, anyone who is directly aware of a dog bite incident is required to report it to the enforcement agent in the county where it occurred. People who are required to report dog bites they witness include witnesses, victims, and dog owners. If you are bitten by a dog or witness a dog bite incident in Tucson, you must file a report with the Pima Animal Care Center. The center can be reached at (520) 724-5900.

After you report a dog bite, the dog will be quarantined. If the dog is unvaccinated, it must be quarantined at a veterinary hospital or the pound for 10 days. The 10-day quarantine period runs from the date of the dog bite. However, if the date is not known, the 10 days will begin running from the date the report is made. Vaccinated dogs may be quarantined at a location approved by the county. The dog’s owner must pay for all costs related to quarantining a dog. If a court declares the dog is vicious, or it shows signs of having rabies, it might not be released.

Q: Are there laws in Arizona that apply to dog attacks?

A: Arizona’s dog bite statute can be found at A.R.S. § 11-1025. Under this law, a dog’s owner will be liable for the injuries suffered by others when a dog attacks in a public place. The dog’s owner will also be liable when the dog bites someone on private property if the victim was legally present. For example, if you invite someone over, and your dog bites your guest, you will be liable for his or her losses. You will similarly be liable if your dog attacks someone who is present on your property with your permission or to perform regular business tasks, including postal workers, meter readers, or package delivery workers. Under Arizona’s law, it does not matter if the dog owner was aware of his or her dog’s propensity to attack other people at the time of the bite.

Q: What is strict liability?

A: Arizona’s dog bite law is a strict liability statute. This means that a victim will not be required to prove that the dog has bitten someone in the past. Dog owners cannot use their lack of knowledge of their dog’s propensity to attack as a defense to liability in a dog bite claim. Victims do not need to prove that the dog’s owner was negligent to recover damages.

Some states have what is known as a one-bite rule. In those states, victims must prove that the dogs have previously attacked or bitten others before they can recover damages. Fortunately, Arizona’s strict liability statute makes it easier for dog bite victims to recover damages for their losses following an attack.

Q: Who will pay for my losses from my dog attack?

A: Dog owners are liable when their dogs bite others. If someone other than the dog’s owner is handling the dog and fails to control it, strict liability will not apply. However, you can file a negligence lawsuit against a person who negligently fails to control a dog even if that person is not the owner.

The strict liability statute also does not apply to other types of attacks. For example, if a dog lunges at an elderly person and knocks him or her down but doesn’t bite, the elderly victim will not be able to sue under the strict liability statute. However, he or she may have a negligence claim if the dog was allowed to run loose or something similar happened. The dog bite lawyers Tucson at Lamber Goodnow can help you to understand your rights in these types of cases.

Most dog bite claims are paid through insurance. While there isn’t a specific dog bite injury coverage, dog bites may be covered by a homeowners’ insurance policy. Our Tucson dog bite attorneys will review the dog owner’s insurance policy to check to see if there are any breed restrictions for the specific type of dog that bit you. Some insurance companies will not cover bites from breeds that they consider dangerous. Finally, the dog’s owner can be personally liable if his or her insurance policy will not cover the attack or bite.

Q: How long do I have to file a dog bite lawsuit?

A: Every state has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including dog bites. You must file a dog bite lawsuit no later than two years after your injury. If you do not file your claim in time, you will not be able to recover damages for your losses. While two years might seem like plenty of time, you should seek legal help as soon as possible after your dog attack. Hiring an attorney early in the process can help you to preserve relevant evidence before it might be lost. This can also help your attorney to find witnesses and speak to them before they move away or forget important details.

Q: What defenses can a dog owner raise?

A: Under A.R.S. 11-1027, a dog owner can defend against a dog bite claim if the victim provoked the dog to attack him or her. The judge or jury will consider whether a reasonable person might consider the conduct of the victim to be provoking to a dog. If this defense is successful, you will not be able to recover damages for your dog bite injuries.


 

Schedule a consultation with the Tucson dog bite law firm of Lamber Goodnow

Dog attacks can cause devastating injuries or fatalities. If you or your loved one has been injured by a dog, you may have legal rights. It is important for you to act quickly so that you can preserve your rights. When you have experienced legal help, you may recover more damages than you might otherwise be able to recover on your own. Contact the Tucson dog bite attorneys at Lamber Goodnow today to schedule your free consultation.

Sources

[1] http://www.azdhs.gov/documents/preparedness/public-health-statistics/publications/a-research-brief-on-dog-bites-in-arizona.pdf

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/features/dog-bite-prevention/index.html

[3] https://www.azleg.gov/ars/11/01025.htm

[4] https://www.azleg.gov/ars/11/01027.htm

[5] Schleier ex rel. Alter v. Alter, 767 P.2d 1187 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1989); https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/1247728/schleier-for-alter-v-alter/

[6] https://www.azleg.gov/ars/12/00541.htm

[7] https://www.azleg.gov/ars/12/00542.htm

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