Dog Bite Cases

Q: Should I report a dog bite?

Yes, if the dog or animal is still at large and poses any threat to you or others you should call 911 immediately.  You should report all dog and animal bites to the animal control department for the county where the bite occurred.  In fact, under Arizona law, health care providers are required to report dog bites to animal control officials in order to prevent the spread of rabies.  In Maricopa County, all bites should be reported to Maricopa County Animal Care and Control at 602-506-PETS(7387) who will perform an investigation.

Q: Does Arizona have the “one free bite” rule?

The “one free bite” rule is a common law rule of negligence that is not the controlling law in the state of Arizona.  Arizona has common law and statutory causes of action that impose strict liability on dog owners. 

Q: What is “strict liability”?  How does it apply to dog bites?

Strict liability means that liability is imposed without proof of negligence, carelessness or fault.  Dog owners are strictly liable pursuant to ARS Section 11-1025 and if a dog is at large, in violation of ARS Section 11-1020.

Q: Do local ordinances and state laws cover dog bites?

Local laws prohibit the keeping of vicious dogs and prohibit dogs from running at large. Also, the State of Arizona has statutes that impose strict liability for dog bites and prohibit dogs at large.

Q: What are leash laws?

Most cities in the State of Arizona, including Phoenix, have ordinances that prohibit dogs at large. Most of these municipalities require that dogs be on a leash that is six (6) feet or shorter or confined with in a yard or structure.  Many retractable leashes extend beyond six feet and are not in compliance with leash laws. The law of the State of Arizona prohibits dogs at large.

Q: Does homeowner’s insurance cover dog bite claims?

Most homeowner’s policies cover bites and attacks by animals owned by the insured.  These cover dog bite claims.  They sometimes cover other animals that occasionally bite, like cats, and rare animals like monkeys, ferrets, and snakes.  There are rare occasions when these policies have breed exclusions for certain breeds like pit bulls or rottweilers.

Q: What happens if the dog owner doesn’t have insurance?

If the dog owner does not have insurance, it is important to investigate whether they have assets or income sufficient to satisfy the damages caused by the dog bite.  Also, it is important to determine whether there are other responsible parties or available insurance polices such as renter’s insurance, a relative’s policy, or a commercial insurance policy.

Q: Are dog owners required to post security signs around their property?

Dog owners are not required by law to post security or warning signs around their property.  However, it is makes good common sense to warn of danger especially powerful or aggressive dog breeds.

Q: Should I press charges if my child has been attacked?

You should cooperate with local prosecutors if you or your child is attacked.  Often, dog owners are prosecuted for allowing a dog to be at large, unregistered, or keeping a vicious dog.

Q: What compensation am I entitled to if a dog has bitten me?

Dog bite victims entitled to compensation for their damages.  In Arizona, a dog bite victim is entitled to be compensated for the nature and extent of their injury, pain, anxiety, suffering, cost of medical care, future medical care, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and loss of consortium or companionship for a spouse or family member.  Specifically, in dog bite cases victims are often disfigured physically by scars that require plastic surgery.  Many dog bite victims are harmed by the emotional trauma of the event and fear of dogs.