dog on fencedog on fence

A dog bite can be a painful and horrifying experience. This is especially true if your child or grandchild is the victim of such an attack. Suffering from a dog bite may also lead to expensive medical bills.

Depending on the facts of your case, you may have the right to bring legal action against the owner or caretaker of the dog that attacked you.  Such legal action would target recovery of compensation for your injuries and other losses. You may be able to bring a claim under Arizona’s strict liability statutes or under a common law negligence theory. Allow a personal injury attorney from Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC to review the facts of your case and help you to explore all options available to you under Arizona law. You will see that the firm possesses diverse skills and experience to your case, and can provide you the one-on-one attention you deserve from a dog attack lawyer. These cases can be time-sensitive, so contact us about your case as soon as possible. We can provide a free consultation.

What Should You Do If You Are Bitten by a Dog?

If you or a loved one are the victim of a dog attack, you should do the following in the immediate aftermath:

  • Wash your wounds and seek medical attention. Use hot soap and water. You can also apply an antibacterial cream. See a doctor as soon as possible if the injury is serious or becomes infected or if more than five years have passed since your last tetanus shot.
  • Get as much information as you can about the dog and owner. For health reasons, you need to know whether the dog has received a rabies vaccination. You should also get the owner’s name and contact information.
  • Take photos. You should get photos of the injuries you have suffered and of the scene where the attack occurred. Keep and do not wash the clothes you were wearing.
  • Call animal control and/or the police. You should contact animal control if you do not know the dog or owner. You should also call the police, who can investigate and determine whether any local leash laws have been violated.
  • Store all of your documents. Make copies of all of your hospitals bills and receipts for other expenses related to the attack. Keep any letters or e-mails you receive from an insurance company. Store these copies in a folder or box so they are all in one place and can be easily found when you need them.
  • Write down what happened. While the incident is still fresh in your memory, you should jot down the details. Being able to recall these details will play an important role in your case as you move forward.

Taking these steps will protect your health. They will also help you to prepare for your initial consultation with Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC. However, even if you have not taken all of these steps, do not let it prevent you from seeking legal help.

Can You Sue the Owner If You are the Victim of a Dog Attack?

If you are bitten by a dog in Arizona, you may be eligible to pursue compensation based on a violation of the state’s strict liability dog bite statutes or a theory of negligence – or both. Let’s take a closer look at these options:

Strict Liability

Under Arizona Revised Statutes § 11-1025, you can file a claim against the owner of a dog that bites you as long as the bite occurred in a public place or you were bitten by a dog in a private place where you were lawfully present. You do not need to show that the dog had a history of being vicious or that the owner knew of the dog’s propensity to attack. Unlike many other states, Arizona has no “one-bite” rule. The owner cannot claim that you assumed the risk of a dog attack or that your own negligence contributed to your being bitten by a dog. The only defense the owner can raise is that you provoked the dog attack or trespassed on the owner’s property. Under another strict liability statute, A.R.S. § 11-1020, you can sue the owner or caretaker of a dog – or both – for any damage you suffer as the result of a dog attack if it occurred while the dog was “at large.” In other words, you may have the right to sue if the dog was roaming through a neighborhood without a leash or muzzle.

Negligence

You may also be able to sue the owner or caretaker of a dog that bites or otherwise attacks you under a theory of negligence. You can establish negligence by proving that the owner failed to act as a reasonable dog owner would have acted. For instance, the owner may have failed to put the dog on a leash, neuter the dog, abused or neglected the dog or otherwise mismanaged the pet. If the owner violated a local leash law or homeowners’ association rule that was aimed at preventing people like you from being the victim of a dog attack, it may establish negligence as a matter of law, or negligence per se. Your attorney can launch an immediate investigation of your case and, based on the facts, pursue all legal options that are available to you.

How Long Do You Have to File a Dog Attack Claim in Arizona?

An important consideration in your case will be when you were bitten by a dog. If too much time has passed since the dog attack, your options may be limited. In Arizona, you will have only one year from the date of the attack within which to bring a claim under the strict liability statutes. Otherwise, you have two years from the date of the attack in which to bring a negligence claim. Due to these time limits, you should get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorney will need time to investigate and prepare the case before the time limits – or statutes of limitation – expire. If a child was the victim, the statute of limitations will not begin to run until the child reaches age 18.

What Can You Recover in a Dog Attack Injury Lawsuit?

A dog bite can cause serious injuries, including skin, muscle and nerve damage. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, a person who sis bitten by a dog also faces a high risk of exposure to the following:

  • Rabies – A disease that affects the brain and, typically, is spread through a dog’s saliva. Rabies is highly serious and often proves to be fatal.
  • Capnocytophaga spp. – A bacteria which can be spread through bites, scratches or other close contact with a dog, causing illness (especially when the victim already has a weakened immune system).
  • Pasteurella – A bacteria that can cause pain and swelling at the wound site. It appears in more than half of all infected dog bite wounds, the CDC reports.
  • Tetanus – A toxin that can cause paralysis.
  • MRSA – A staph infection that can lead to skin, lung and urinary tract infections. It can be deadly if the infection reaches the bloodstream, according to the CDC.

The cost of treating a dog bite injury can be expensive. According to a report by the Arizona Department of Health Services, which looked at data from a recent five-year period, the median cost of emergency room dog bite-related visits in our state is $1,150, while the median price of hospitalizations is $17,000. In a dog bite lawsuit, you can seek a full recovery for all past medical expenses you have sustained due to your dog bite as well as any future medical costs you are expected to incur. You can also seek a recovery of lost income, pain and suffering and more. If you are concerned about bringing a legal claim against a friend or neighbor, you should know that, in most cases, a dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy should pay for your damages – not the owner’s personal assets.