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What is the liability for dog bites in Arizona?

Today, it is not uncommon to walk by a house that has a dog in the yard. While many residents in Arizona and elsewhere in the nation have dogs as pets, there are many responsibilities when it comes to owning a dog. While the dog owner is required to care for the dog, the person is also required to ensure the safety of those coming in contact with their dog.

What is the liability for dog bites in Arizona? When a dog attacks or bites another person, the dog owner is strictly liable. According to Arizona Statutes section 11-1025, this means that the owner of the dog that bites another person either in a public place or in a private place, which includes the property of the dog owner, the owner of the dog is liable for the damages suffered by the person that was bit by the dog.

Additionally, liability occurs regardless if the dog has a past of vicious behavior or whether or not the owner had no knowledge of the dog's vicious tendencies. This means that this statute imposes liability on a dog owner without respect to any fault on the part of the owner. Whether it is the dog's first bite or fifth bite, the owners are held liable for every bite even if they had no idea their dog would respond by biting a visitor or stranger. It should be noted that this statute does not apply to dogs used in military or police work where the bite occurred while the dog was defending itself from a harassing or provoking action.

A dog owner does have a defense against liability following a dog bite. According to Arizona Statutes section 11-1027, if the injured party provoked the dog that attacked or bit them, the owner could use that as a defense. In this situation, there must be proof of provocation and be determined that a reasonable person would expect that such a conduct or circumstance would likely result in provoking a dog.

If an individual is harmed by a dog and did not doing anything to provoke the dog, then it is possible for that person to seek damages from the dog owner. Those harmed by the dog attack or bite could seek compensation for the serious injuries and damages caused by the dog bite.

Source: Azleg.gov, "11-1025. Liability for dog bites," accessed Feb. 22, 2016

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Law Office of Keith A. Hammond, P.C.

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