Beware of Vicious Dogs, Especially If You Are Their Owner
Arizona damages laws are serious in cases involving dogs that bite and injure people. In most situations when a dog bites someone, it is no defense to liability that the dog was restrained or that it was on the owner's property. Under certain circumstances, the owner's responsibility for the financial consequences of a dog's behavior is nearly absolute.
If it can be shown that the victim provoked the dog, however, the owner may escape liability regardless of circumstances.
Recent well-publicized incidents illustrate the devastating nature of injuries that can be caused by a dog.
Even a generally friendly dog can cause serious injuries with a single bite.
As with all personal injury claims in Arizona, claims for dog bite injuries generally must either be settled or a lawsuit filed within a specified time after the incident. If this requirement is not met, the claim will be barred, and the victim will not receive compensation from the dog's owner. Although there are a few exceptions
to this rule, it is unwise to delay the proper presentation of a claim.
This timing requirement is referred to as a "statute of limitations."
For reasons that are too complicated to explain here, there are two statutes of limitation affecting dog bite claims in Arizona.
In the absence of circumstances that would stop the time from running, the latest a lawsuit can be filed is two years from the date of the incident. It is almost always preferable, however, to comply with the other limitation, which is a one year period.
With any claim for injuries resulting from a dog bite, it is wise to consult an attorney experienced in handling personal injury cases. Most lawyers provide these consultations free, without further obligation.
I have an additional tip for dog owners. Buy adequate liability insurance to protect you in the event your dog does bite someone. I suggest homeowner's or renter's liability coverage of no less than $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence.