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When can a lawsuit be filed after a dog bite?

While caring for a domestic pet like a dog or a cat is common, most do not expect a pet to lash out, bite or attack them when they are visiting the home or property of another. However, because animals are wild creatures, they have the tendency to act vicious in certain situations or circumstances. Nonetheless, in Arizona, liability is placed on a pet owner even if negligence did not directly cause an animal bite or attack of a visitor or trespasser.

When can an action following a dog bite be filed? In Arizona, an owner is strictly liable if that person's dog bites another person while they are on their own property. This would be considered a situation where the dog is at large. It most cases, the negligence of the dog owner led to the dog escaping from the owner's home or yard. If a dog at large attacks a person, that person only needs to prove that the dog caused injury to hold them strictly liable.

In matters where a stray dog attacks an individual, a legal action will generally not be available. This is because municipalities are generally not responsible for stray dogs. However, if the dog was being kept at a local pound and it escapes and bites a person, it is likely that the victim will have a claim against the pound. One could argue that the injures were the result of the negligence of the pound.

When a person goes to a home to perform work and is injured due to a dog bite or attack, that person will likely have a cause for action because the property owner owes a legal responsibility to take reasonable efforts to prevent injuries to visitors on the property. Other situations to consider when filing a legal action follow a dog bite is whether it involved a police dog using unreasonable force, a dog owner not complying with leash laws, an animal owner keeping a vicious animal or a pet that causes harm to or the death of your pet.

Following a dog bite, it is important to assess what options might be available to a bite victim. If serious injuries and damages result, a victim could file a civil action for compensation. This could help address financial hardships incurred from the dog bite, such as medical bills, emotional pain, rehabilitation and lost wages.

Source: Findlaw, "Dog/Animal Bites FAQ," Accessed June 9, 2016

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

Keith A. Hammond, P.C. Attorney at Law
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