Arizona Dog Bite Injury Laws & Owner Liability Rules

When is the owner liable for dog bite injuries in a personal injury claim or lawsuit in Arizona?

This article explores a few key areas of dog bite law in Arizona. We begin with the deadline for filing an Arizona dog bite injury lawsuit, and then take a look at the law that governs dog bite cases in the state. Then, we'll discuss the difference between "strict liability" and "negligence" dog injury cases, and what it means for Arizona dog bite cases. Finally, we'll touch on some defenses an Arizona dog owner might raise when facing a dog bite lawsuit.

Arizona's Deadlines for Dog Bite Lawsuits

The "statute of limitations" is the law that sets deadlines for filing various kinds of cases in court. In Arizona, dog bite injury cases must be filed within two years of the date of the bite. If the case isn't filed before the two-year deadline has passed, the court will almost certainly throw the case out without hearing it. Therefore, it's wise to make sure you know when your deadline expires and file your lawsuit in civil court before that date.

Arizona's Dog Bite Statute

Arizona has a specific law that covers dog bite cases, which appears in section 11-1025 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. In order to hold a dog owner liable, an injured person must show that:

  • the injury was caused by a dog bite, and
  • the bite was suffered while the person was in a public place or lawfully in a private place.

This statute only applies to dog bites, not to other kinds of injuries caused by dogs. In order to bring a case against a dog owner for another type of dog-caused injury, the injured person will need to show that the owner failed to use reasonable care to prevent the dog from causing the injury. For instance, if you are knocked down in the park by a dog that jumps on you, you will need to show that the owner failed to use reasonable care to prevent the dog from jumping on you.

Arizona is a "Strict Liability" Dog Bite State

Arizona's dog bite law is a "strict liability" law. This means that the law applies even if the owner did not know the dog would bite and even if the dog has never bitten anyone before. U.S. states are split between "strict liability" for dog bites and "negligence," also known as the "one-bite rule," for dog bites. The "one-bite rule" states that the owner is only liable if the dog has bitten before or the owner knew the dog was aggressive.

Defenses to an Arizona Dog Bite Injury Claim

A dog owner in Arizona can raise two defenses to a dog bite injury claim: provocation and trespassing. Section 11-1027 of the Arizona Revised Statutes states that a dog owner is not liable for a bite if the dog was provoked. A dog is considered "provoked" when the injured person does something that a reasonable person would believe would provoke a dog. For instance, poking a dog repeatedly with a stick would be considered provocation.

A dog owner may also avoid liability for a dog bite in Arizona by showing that the person bitten was trespassing at the time of the bite. Arizona's dog bite statute requires an injured person to be on public property or lawfully on private property when a bite occurs. If the person is unlawfully on private property, or trespassing, the owner may not be liable for the bite. This defense is one example of a limit on homeowner liability for trespasser injuries.

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