Phoenix Dog Bite Lawyer

Home - Practice Areas - Phoenix Dog Bite Lawyer

Phoenix Dog Bite Attorney

Dogs can make for good pets for many people, but they are unpredictable. Regardless of how sweet the dog may have been their whole life, they may still do something unexpected. When that happens, the victims may be left with physical damage and psychological trauma.

If you want to ensure that you pursue every option to its fullest extent to get the compensation you deserve, then you need to work with a skilled Phoenix dog bite lawyer.

The costs that you endure as a result of a dog bite are the responsibility of the owner of the dog. They are legally obligated to pay compensation for what’s occurred, whether themselves or through an insurance provider. More often than not, though, there is resistance regarding paying everything that you’re rightfully owed.

If you’ve been bitten, we at the Bleaman Law Firm can represent you and seek the compensation that the law demands you’re given. With decades of experience in personal injury law, we are fully prepared to help you recover after a dog bite injury.

Dog Bite Injuries

Anyone who’s played with a very young puppy has probably gotten a playful nip. Even those small bites, though, can hurt. Once they get a bit stronger, there can be real damage done from a dog bite. Some of the more common injuries include:

  • Bruising and Contusions – Even if a dog doesn’t break the skin or draw blood, the shear force of their bite could cause contusions and bruising.
  • Crushed and Torn Tissue – Muscles, fascia, and other tissue beneath the skin can be torn and damaged whether the bite breaks the skin or not.
  • Punctures – Sometimes, a dog’s teeth will pierce the skin without creating a gash, but these can be very painful, as they are often paired with bruising and crushed tissue. They also create the possibility of bacteria from the dog’s mouth getting inside a person and causing an infection.
  • Lacerations – A dog’s teeth can often slash through a person’s skin, leaving a gash. Some of these can require stitches or even surgery to repair them.
  • Fractures – A dog’s jaw strength can be significant and can lead to breaks in human bones. This is a particular risk in bites to a hand where there are so many smaller bones that could easily snap and break.
  • Nerve Damage – Nerves can be damaged by a dog bite, leading to problems with motor function impairment or sensory issues. This is more likely to be in sensitive areas, such as a person’s hands or face.
  • Infections – A dog’s mouth is full of bacteria, which may enter the human body through a dog bite, particularly if the skin is broken. This could lead to things like abscesses or cellulitis.
  • Scarring and Disfigurement – Any wounds, including dog bites, carry the risk of scarring, and particularly blunt, violent trauma could lead to permanent disfigurement. Some of the more vulnerable situations include bites to the hands, face, or neck. If the victim is a child, this is a risk as well.

Strict Liability in a Dog Bite

Except for very rare occasions, the dog’s owner is going to be the liable party in a dog bite claim. In some states, there’s no liability for the owner of the dog unless the dog has bitten someone once before. This is sometimes known as a “one-bite” rule. Arizona, though, operates under what is known as “strict liability” for dog bites. This means that the owner of a dog can be held liable, even if the dog has never bitten anyone before.

Strict liability in a dog bite situation is determined by its own statute, which is a bit different from a general personal injury claim. It is possible to file a standard personal injury claim, but there are some slight differences. This may be an option if you happen to have missed the deadline to file for a strict liability claim.

How Is Strict Liability Proven in a Dog Bite Case?

In a strict liability case in Phoenix, there are a few basic requirements that must be met to prove liability. One is that your lawyer must be able to prove that the dog bite happened. This is generally not a particularly challenging aspect.

Photos, videos, eyewitness testimony, and even forensic evidence can all be used to prove that the bite occurred. It must also be shown that the dog belongs to the defendant, which is also something that is typically not difficult.

The more contentious part of proving liability in a strict liability case involves addressing the challenges that the defendant’s lawyers may put forth. For instance, one potential defense in a strict liability dog bite case is that there was provocation on the part of the defendant.

This defense can cover a broad range of actions. Things like hitting, kicking, and pulling on a dog could all be considered provocation. This defense even extends to when a toddler does something like that with a dog.

Another defense may be that the plaintiff was not lawfully present on the property. A dog owner is not typically going to be found to be liable if the victim of the dog bite was attempting a burglary, trespassing, or had some other illegal reason that they were present. The victim must lawfully be on the property.

This generally means people who have been invited onto the property or have a legitimate commercial purpose for being on the property. Some of the potentially lawful parties include:

  • Social Visitors
  • Package Deliverers
  • Mail Carriers
  • Utility Workers
  • Meter Readers
  • Public Officials

How Is Liability for a Dog Bite Proven in Standard Personal Injury Claims?

If you need to file a personal injury claim for a dog bite, the burden of proof can be a little more challenging, as you will need to prove negligence on the part of the dog owner. This follows the general pattern of negligence in personal injury claims, which requires that you prove three components:

  • Duty of Care – A responsibility to take reasonable precautions to ensure that others aren’t placed in any unnecessary danger or risk.
  • Breach of Duty – They must have failed to take reasonable precautions.
  • Cause of Injury – The breach must be shown to be the reason that the injury occurred.

Generally, this means that the plaintiff must be able to show that the owner had reason to suspect the possibility that the dog might bite someone and should have taken reasonable precautions to protect against that. This can be difficult to prove unless the dog has a clear history of having previously bitten someone or other aggressive behavior.

There’s also the possibility of negligence per se. What this means is that if the dog’s owner was allowing the dog to roam beyond certain limitations, then they could be found to be negligent regardless of any reason to suspect possible aggressive behavior. Not following the basic legal requirements of dog owners could lead to negligence per se. These requirements must be followed everywhere except for designated off-leash park locations. They include:

  • Not allowing the dog to be at large
  • Keeping the dog in a fully enclosed yard
  • Having the dog in a collar or harness with a license tag when in public
  • Keeping the dog on a maximum six-foot leash when in public

What Kind of Compensation Is Paid for a Dog Bite?

The costs that you may seek compensation for in a dog bite claim must be demonstrated to be a direct result of the dog bite and not a product of anything else. Things like medical bills, receipts, and doctors notes can be essential for proving this connection.

The compensation is referred to as damages, and in most dog bite cases, it will fall into one of two categories:

  • Economic Damages – The first category of damages is made up of those things that have a relatively straightforward financial component. In the case of a dog bite, this is most likely going to be medical bills and, in the case of more severe injury, lost wages from any time that work was missed because of the injuries.

If your injury is severe enough to require ongoing medical attention past the completion of the case, future treatment, physical therapy and rehabilitation, medication, surgeries, and other medical expenses are also covered. Additionally, if the injury is significant to prevent you from returning to work in the same capacity, that reduced future earning capacity is also addressed under economic damages.

  • Non-Economic Damages – Non-economic damages cover those costs that are without a clear financial component. Especially in the case of a dog bite, there are psychological and emotional costs that come along with any physical effects. That’s especially true for children.

A dog bite can create anxiety, mental anguish, and pain and suffering. These kinds of effects and others are compensated through non-economic damages. Money won’t solve these kinds of issues, but the hope is that it might make them more manageable.

Although rare, there are some instances when a dog bite results in death. Those situations are typically handled in a wrongful death claim and include additional damages that cover funeral and burial costs.

What Does a Phoenix Dog Bite Lawyer Do?

Working with a Phoenix dog bite lawyer can be critical to the success of your claim. They can help you evaluate the options available to you and understand what approach is going to fit your situation. A lawyer can represent you through the full process and fight to see that you get what you deserve.

We usually begin our process with a thorough investigation of the dog bite. Understanding the situation and what happened can help us better understand what legal options are available to you.

We can seek to find evidence that proves what occurred. Importantly, we will also seek to find anything that can be helpful in defending against any allegation that there was provocation or that you weren’t on the property for legitimate reasons.

In many situations, an insurance company will be the one paying out your claim. Before taking the case to trial, though, there will likely be an attempt to negotiate a settlement. We can negotiate on your behalf and seek an agreement that’s fair.

By allowing a lawyer to negotiate for you, insurance companies are more likely to take the situation seriously. They know a lawyer understands what’s fair in a given situation and is not afraid to go to court if that becomes necessary.

There are situations where a settlement is not possible, and going to court is the only real option available. In those cases, your lawyer will again act as your representative before the court. We present the evidence that you were bitten, defend against accusations of provocation or unlawful presence on the property, and argue for damages to cover the costs that you’ve incurred.

If You’ve Been Bitten, We Can Help You Seek the Compensation That You Deserve

A dog bite is a frightening thing, and that’s for good reason. Occasionally, there may be a harmless dog bite, but they are often a serious issue with real consequences. Dogs may be domestic, but they are still potentially dangerous animals. A bite can do severe physical harm and leave victims with mental and psychological effects as well.

You’re owed compensation for these damages by either the owner of the dog or, more likely, an insurance policy that they carry. Arizona’s strict liability for dog bites says you are legally entitled to compensation for what you’ve endured.

Receiving what you’re owed can often be more complex than you might wish. Whether you’re seeking the compensation you need from an individual or insurance company, you will likely receive resistance.

However, you can be sure that you will exhaust every option possible to receive what you need when you work with a Phoenix dog bite lawyer like those at the Bleaman Law Firm. We seek to make sure our clients are properly compensated for their suffering. If you’ve been bitten and are ready to explore your options, contact us today.


Contact Our Firm

Fields Marked With An “*” Are Required

"*" indicates required fields

I Have Read The Disclaimer*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.