"The owner of a dog which bites a person when the person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of its viciousness."This is what we in the legal business refer to as a “strict liability” statute. Negligence or prior knowledge does not matter. It doesn’t matter if Fido has not bitten before or since, or is otherwise “such a nice dog”. If Fido takes a dislike to anyone and settles it with his/her teeth, you, as Fido’s owner, are automatically liable for all the medical bills and pain and suffering incurred by the bitten party. No questions asked. The statute would apply if the dog bites the mail carrier or the plumber while either is visiting the dog’s owner with permission. The statute would also apply if the dog attacks a random individual in a public place, such as the light rail. There is only one defense, and that applies if the injured party provoked the animal. Murdock v. Balle, 144 Ariz. 136, 137-38, 696 P.2d 230, 231-32 (App. 1985). Here are some important things you need to know about dog bites:
- Dog bite cases, in our experience, settle more quickly and for higher amounts than automobile crashes. The Law Offices of Michael P Denea, PLC has successfully handled several dog bite cases and settled them quickly. If you are bitten, call us.
- If you own a dog, protect yourself from potentially catastrophic financial loss by taking out homeowners or renters insurance. (Some policies exclude coverage for certain breeds of dogs so read your policy carefully or ask your agent.)
- If you are bitten by a dog, you have one year to file your claim against the owner in court (as opposed to the two year window for automobile crashes).