Phoenix & Mesa Dog Bite Injury Attorney
Dog bites are common injuries in Arizona and elsewhere. Unlike some other personal injuries, they incorporate the traumatic element of assault with the pain and inconvenience of being physically harmed. While a single bite is disturbing, a full-on attack can be deadly. Most dogs are friendly and affectionate, but if you are unfortunate enough to be injured by an aggressive animal, under most circumstances you are entitled to collect damages from the dog’s owner. In the event that you are bitten by a dog in Phoenix, Mesa, or anywhere in Arizona, you should contact the personal injury attorneys at Blischak Law Firm. We will assist you with efficiency and concern, making sure that you receive full compensation for the harm you have suffered.
Dog Bite Laws in Arizona
In order to hold a dog owner liable for a bite in Arizona, the victim must be able to show that:  the injury was caused by a dog bite  the bite occurred in a public place or in a private place that the victim lawfully occupied and  the owner failed to exercise reasonable care to prevent the dog from attacking.
If a dog bites a veterinarian, dog groomer, or another dog caretaker, the court may rule that the victim assumed the risk of such an occurrence by his or her choice of occupation. There are exceptions, however, such as when the owner has withheld pertinent information about the dog’s history.
On the other hand, if a dog bites you when it is being cared for by someone other than its owner, our personal injury attorneys may be able to collect damages for you from both parties. Depending on the circumstances, for example, the age of the person caring for the dog, the court may hold both people responsible or only the owner. It should be remembered that even if you are found partially liable for your own injury (because you were trespassing, for example), under comparative negligence laws you may still be able to receive a percentage of the damages.
You should be aware that an Arizona statute makes the owner or another responsible person (sitter, walker, etc.) automatically liable to a bite victim for injuries and property damage that occur when the dog is “at large,” that is neither confined nor restrained by a leash. In cases in which the animal is leashed or fenced in, the situation may be less clear-cut. In such cases, a knowledgeable personal injury attorney is invaluable.
When the Owner is Not Liable
You should be aware that there are situations in which the dog’s owner is not considered liable for injuries caused by dog bites. If it’s determined that the dog was provoked (e.g.hit or poked with a stick) or that the victim was on the owner’s property unlawfully, the owner cannot be held liable for damages. Because complex situations may arise, for instance when a child runs onto the owner’s property to retrieve a ball, in which the law is cloudy, it is important to have a savvy dog bite attorney to assist you.
Statute of Limitations for Dog Bites in Arizona
Dog bite lawsuits must be filed within 2 years of the incident. Otherwise, in all likelihood, the case will be dismissed without ever being heard by the court. This is one of the reasons you should promptly contact Blischak Law Firm as soon as possible after you are injured. Because the judicial process moves slowly, it is important for our attorneys to take action quickly. We may be able to get the person responsible to settle your claim, or we may have to go ahead with litigation. In either case, once you have engaged our services, you don’t have to worry. We are highly capable of handling either scenario.
What does “Strict Liability” mean in terms of dog bites?
State laws regarding dog bites vary, so it is important to hire an attorney who knows these laws in-depth in the state of Arizona. While in some states there is a “one-bite rule,” meaning the owner is only liable if the dog has bitten or demonstrated aggressive behavior previously, Arizona is a “Strict Liability” dog bite state. This means that the owner is liable whether the dog has a prior record of aggressive behavior or not.
Serious Dog Bite Injuries
Most people who deal with dogs on a regular basis have been “nipped” on occasion, especially by puppies, perhaps experiencing a slight skin tear or bruise. A serious dog bite, however, is another matter, requiring urgent medical attention. Severe dog bites may result in:
- Excessive bleeding
- Pain and bruising
- Eventual scarring
- Deep wounds that penetrate flesh, muscle, ligament, and even bone
- Infectious diseases such as Pasteurella, tetanus, MRSA, and rabies
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injuries
- Wrongful death
While rabies in dogs in extremely rare throughout the country, Arizona has had a noticeable increase in cases of rabies in other animals, such as bats and coyotes, so there is always a chance that a dog that bites you may have contracted the disease. This is why pet owners are required to get their dogs vaccinated against the illness. Other bacterial infections that may enter the body through the puncture wounds of a dog bite can become systemic and life-threatening.
Those with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to infections as a result of dog bites and small children are especially vulnerable to serious injury, not only because of their small stature, but because they may move suddenly in ways the dog interprets as threatening, unwittingly provoking an attack.
Types of Damages You May Recover for Dog Bite Injuries
In Arizona, there are two basic types of damages dog bite victims can recover after a serious accident: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages reimburse you for actual costs you have incurred as a result of the incident. These include:
- Medical, surgical and rehabilitative expenses
- Lost wages, present and future
- Healthcare for permanent disability
- Property damage (destruction of clothing, equipment, jewelry)
Non-economic damages attempt to compensate you for intangibles suffered as a result of being bitten, such as physical pain, emotional suffering, loss of consortium (ability to provide affection or companionship as previously), and loss of quality of life. If the person liable for your injuries has acted with malice or intent (by commanding the dog to attack you,for example), Blischak’s attorney may be able to obtain punitive damages for you as well. It should be noted that Arizona, according to a particular provision of the state constitution, has no cap on personal injury damages.
Dog Bite Injury Lawyer Prepared to Serve Residents of Mesa, Scottsdale, & Phoenix
Being bitten by a dog can be a traumatic experience, even if you have had pet dogs all your life. Once you have received all necessary medical attention, you should contact the skilled personal injury attorneys at Blischak Law Firm as promptly as possible. We will interview you and any witnesses, gather evidence of the dog’s behavioral history (and perhaps the owner’s) in order to build a strong case. We will either negotiate a successful settlement or litigate vigorously on your behalf to make sure that you receive all the compensation you deserve. You can reach us by telephone or by filling out one of the contact forms on our website.