What Happens If Your Dog Bites Someone? (Arizona)

In this episode Attorney Chuck Franklin provides prime examples about why you should always keep a hand and an eye on your dog at all times!

What Happens When Your Dog Bites Someone Transcript

In this week’s episode, we are going to be talking about dog bites, explaining “one bite states”, and the consequences you face if your dog bites someone in a non-one bite state. In addition, we will also briefly discus how your homeowner’s insurance policy comes into play in this scenario.

If you own a home with a mortgage you more than likely have a homeowner’s policy and a lot of home owner policies will cover dog bites. However, there are certain dogs that many insurance carriers will exclude from your home owner’s policy, simply due to the fact that they are classified as a “mean breed”. Some dogs put into this category are: Pit bull’s, Rottweilers, Huskies, German Shepard’s, and Chows. Some smaller breeds of dogs are also listed in the “mean breed” category.

Many U.S. States are classified as either “one free bite” or “non-one free bite”. Some states are called “one free bite” states because the owner has to have been negligent for a bite victim to recover damages. To show negligence you have to show that the owner did something unreasonable and that it caused the damages for which recompense is sought. To make that clear a plaintiff is typically required to show that the owner knew the dog was vicious and failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent harm to others. Moreover, Arizona, due to its strict liability statute, is not a “one free bite” state, and the owner is liable regardless of whether they were negligent or not. However, the owner can claim a defense that the plaintiff was provoking the dog, or that they were trespassing at the time of the bite.

The Arizona Revised Statue provides:

START_STATUTE11-1025.  Liability for dog bites

  1. 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.
  2. Nothing in this section or in section 11‑1020 shall permit the bringing of an action for damages against any governmental agency using a dog in military or police work if the bite occurred while the dog was defending itself from a harassing or provoking act, or assisting an employee of the agency in any of the following:
  3. In the apprehension or holding of a suspect where the employee has a reasonable suspicion of the suspect’s involvement in criminal activity.
  4. In the investigation of a crime or possible crime.
  5. In the execution of a warrant.
  6. In the defense of a peace officer or another person.
  7. Subsection B of this section shall not apply in any case where the victim of the bite was not a party to, nor a participant in, nor suspected to be a party to or a participant in, the act that prompted the use of the dog in the military or police work.
  8. Subsection B of this section shall apply only where a governmental agency using a dog in military or police work has adopted a written policy on the necessary and appropriate use of a dog for the police or military work enumerated in subsection B of this section.

A.R.S.  § 11-1025, Liability for Dog bites, 08/12/2016 END_STATUTE

Every city in Arizona has a leash law, meaning you cannot let your dog run around loose. If your dog ends up biting someone and/or your dog is not on a leash then you can be charged criminally in court. Again, you do not get a “freebie” in Arizona and you are responsible for all actions of your animal. It cannot be stressed enough that you need to keep your hand and eye on your dog, at all times.

Have you or anyone you know been charged with an animal related offense?

If you or anyone you know needs legal assistance of any kind do not hesitate to contact Attorney Chuck Franklin here: (480) 545-0700