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Bitten By a Dog? What to Do Now

by on April 16, 2014

A recent report from the Arizona State Department of Health Services shows that dog bite injuries are on the rise across the state, resulting in 2,358 hospitalizations between 2008 and 2012. Agency director Will Humble mandated a study on emergency room visits and hospitalizations for those suffering from serious dog bites, after a four-year old AZ boy was severely mauled by a canine this past February.

According to the research, there was a 139 percent increase in patients requiring at least one night in the hospital, and an estimated 70 percent of all dog bite cases happened in the home.

A staggering $55 million has been spent on ER visits and healthcare expenses related to dog bite injuries from 2008-2012, highlighting the costly nature of treating injuries and infections caused by canine bites.

If you or a loved one has suffered a dog attack, you may be eligible for compensation. It’s crucial for victims to have their claims reviewed by experienced Phoenix dog bite attorneys at Wattel & York, who can accurately assess your rights and legal options.

Steps to take if you’ve been bitten by a dog

Whether on your own property, at the home of a family member, or visiting a public venue, the following are important steps you should take if you are bitten by a dog:

  1. Immediately clean and disinfect the wound with water and soap
  2. Seek medical attention right away
  3. Note all details about the canine, such as location of the attack, breed, color and size of dog, the presence of a collar or ID and its owner
  4. Report the dog attack to the police and local animal control
  5. If witnesses were present, collect their information
  6. Document your injuries and wounds with photos
  7. Safeguard all medical records and reports regarding your injuries and treatment
  8. Contact an Arizona dog bite injury lawyer before speaking to insurance carriers

Liability in dog bite cases in Arizona

Arizona has specific legislation regarding liability in dog bite cases. Local dog bite law states that the owner of a dog that bites a person who is in a public place or lawfully on private property, including the dog owner’s property, is liable for damages suffered by the victim, regardless of the history of viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of its prior violence.

The dog’s owner may be held accountable for any losses and damages caused by the bite, if the event was unprovoked, occurred on public property or the owner’s residence or property.

Unlike other states that have passed “one free bite” laws, Arizona imposes strict liability on all dog bite cases, meaning the canine’s owner can be held liable regardless if the attack was the dog’s first bite or twentieth, so long as the claim is presented within one year of the bite. Even if the dog in question has never shown aggressiveness or vicious tendencies, its owner can still be sued for damages in a court of law under strict liability claims.  Claims for injuries arising out of a dog bite can still be brought after one year, but before two years, though the victim must prove negligence on the part of the dog owner.  So, it is critical that victims of dog bites present their claims as soon as possible since the strict liability claim is much easier to prove.

Hospital and medical bills related to dog bite injuries can accumulate quickly, putting added financial strain on victims.

A Phoenix personal injury lawsuit can recover damages for:

  • All related medical expenses – current and future
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost income from missed work
  • Counseling or therapy, if required
  • Miscellaneous costs of care

Get legal help after a dog bite accident

Partnering with the right Phoenix dog bite attorneys after an accident can make a huge difference in the amount of compensation you recover. Victims should consider legal action as soon as possible, to remain within AZ statute of limitations for bringing a personal injury lawsuit.

To arrange a free consultation with Wattel & York injury attorneys, please call our offices toll-free at (877) 572-4143.

Resources:

  1. ABQ Journal.com, Serious dog bites on rise in Arizona, official says, http://www.abqjournal.com/378776/news/serious-dog-bites-on-rise-in-arizona-official-says.html 
  2. Medscape, Animal Bite-associated Infections, http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/739023_2
  3. Arizona State Legislature, Liability for dog bites, http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/11/01025.htm&Title=11&DocType=ARS

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