The Arizona Daily Sun reported that a 33 year old man was arrested after his dog ran up and bit a man as he walked by on the sidewalk. The dog named Coocoy bit the 47 year old victim causing a 3 inch laceration to his leg. According to the dog owner, Coocoy, has never shown signs of being aggressive and he believes that people using the nearby homeless shelter were harassing and provoking his dog. The owner was charged with dog at large and vicious dog at large. [i]
Dog Bites are a common occurrence because there are nearly 78.2 million dogs in the United States, that almost one dog for every four people.[ii] Dog bites can range from minor cuts and scratches to death.
Dog Bite Statistics[iii]:
- Yearly there are 4.7 million dog bites in the United State;
- Out of those 4.7 million dog bites, 800,000 dog bites require medical attention;
- 71% of dog bite victims are bitten in the arm, legs, hands and feet;
- 25 types of dog have been involved in 238 dog-bite related fatalities;
- 24% of fatalities involve unrestrained dogs off the owners’ property;
- 58% of fatalities involve unrestrained dogs on the owners’ property; and
- The insurance industry, on average, pays $1 billion in dog bite claims yearly.
Under Arizona Revised Statutes §§ 11-1020 and 11-1025, Coconino County Ordinance §§ 2007-3, 2007-5, 2007-6, and 2007-7. Under these statutes, a dog could be held liable for injuries sustained from a vicious dog attack. These laws state:
11-1020. Dogs; Liability
Injury to any person or damage to any property by a dog while at large shall be the full responsibility of the dog owner or person or persons responsible for the dog when such damages were inflicted.
11-1025. Liability for dog bites
A. 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.
The owner, or other person acting for the owner of a dog shall at all times keep such dog from being or running at large upon the streets, sidewalks, alleys, or public property of unincorporated areas of the County, unless such dog is restrained by a leash, cord, rope or chain of not more than 6 feet in length and of sufficient strength to control the action of the dog. This provision also includes land under the control of both State and Federal Government.
Injury to any person or damage to any property including domestic and wild animals, by a dog while running at large shall be the full responsibility of the dog owner, or persons responsible for the dog when such damages were inflicted.
The owner, or any person acting for the owner, found to have been in violation of the provisions of Section 3 of the Ordinance is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor and shall be subject to a fine, plus applicable cost and surcharge as follows: for the first offense, a fine of not less than twenty five dollars( $25.00)no more than seven hundred and fifty ($750.00); for the second offense a fine of not less that fifty dollars ($50.00) no more than seven hundred and fifty dollars ($750.00); for the third offense a fine of not less than one hundred dollars($100.00)no more than seven hundred and fifty
No person owning or harboring or having the care or custody of a vicious dog shall suffer or permit such dog to go unconfined beyond the premises of such person unless such dog is securely leashed and muzzled or otherwise securely restrained.
If you or someone you know is a victim of a dog bite, you may be entitled to money damages for your injuries. The attorneys at the Law Office of Gonzales and Poirier have helped victims throughout the state recover large settlements to compensate them for their injuries. We take dog bite cases seriously and believe the owners of these animals need to be held responsible for their actions. Furthermore, owners of dogs are held strictly liable for injuries caused by their dogs. Under the law pertaining to Arizona strict liability for dog bites there is no requirement that an owner have knowledge of a dog’s viciousness and there is no “one free bite” requirement, and assumption of the risk is not a defense.
In other words, the dog owner is strictly liable for injuries sustained as a result of a dog bite. Those victims that want to bring forth claims for damages must do so in one year after the biting, otherwise they must bring an action under common law negligence, which may be done in two years. See A.R.S. § 12-541.
What should I do if I have been bitten by another person’s dog? First, seek medical attention. Dog bites can be dangerous as there is always a fear of rabies. The next step is to contact law enforcement or animal control. The dog needs to be quarantined and tested for rabies and other diseases. The third step is to identify the owner of the dog owner. Law enforcement and animal control may assist you in identifying the dog’s owner. You need to also document the injuries – take lots of pictures of the dog bites. Lastly, hire a lawyer.
Why hire a lawyer? Hiring a lawyer is very important as they have the knowledge for protect your injury claim. The law says that a dog’s owner is liable, but it does not tell you how you will get paid. Some owners have insurance and others do not. Your lawyer should know how to deal with these types of cases. Further, your lawyer has the skill to deal with insurance companies, who want to pay you as little as possible.
Why call Gonzales & Poirier? The attorneys at Gonzales and Poirier have vast experience in handling dog bite cases. Tony Gonzales is an
experienced trial attorney handling injury cases. Tony knows how to get insurance companies and others to pay for your injuries. Call Gonzales & Poirier for a free consultation in their Flagstaff or Cottonwood office. If these locations will not meet your needs, our attorneys will travel to your home. Call us at (928) 774-5400 or Toll Free at (855) 774-5400 or visit our website for more information.
Remember each case is unique and you should not substitute this article for the advice and consultation of an experienced plaintiff attorney. We offer free case consultation and can advise you on your rights, call us at 928-774-5400.