As a society, far too many people are quick to blame the dog when a person is bit. At Baily Law Firm, we firmly believe that people are to blame, not dogs. It is the negligent, careless, irresponsible and even reckless conduct of owners that leads to serious dog bite injuries. It is about time the blame shifts from the dogs to the owners (and their insurance company) — that is where we come in.
Dog owners should carefully introduce new people, in and out of the home. Even if their dog is friendly and well-socialized, new people can trigger unexpected reactions. This is especially important because Arizona is a strict liability state, meaning owners are responsible for injuries caused by their dog’s bite, even absent history of bite(s) or aggression. Compare this to the “one-free-bite rule” followed by many other states, which limits dog owners’ liability to circumstances in which the owner knew their dog was aggressive or their dog had previously bitten a person.
Notably, in Arizona dog owners are not responsible for injuries cause by their dog’s bite if the injured person trespassed or provoked the dog. A dog is considered legally provoked when the injured person engages in conduct that a reasonable person would believe would provoke a dog. This means everyone should take basic precautions when it comes to interacting with dogs, including asking the owner before approaching a dog and avoiding any behavior that may annoy or threaten a dog.
In most circumstances, dog bites are generally avoidable through common sense and responsible practices. For example, owners must always leash their dog in public, period. All doors to and from the home should be secured and all family members (including children) and guests instructed not to let the dog out. Even friendly dogs can run out of the house and, overwhelmed and startled, react negatively to people. Situations like this can cause serious injuries but are entirely avoidable through responsible pet ownership and basic precautions.
With the growing popularity of dog-friendly patios, owners must always stay vigilant and keep their dogs at their side and under control. Dining with the dog is a fantastic way to socialize because it usually involves a lot of people, other pets, and endless stimuli. People cannot predict everything that might trigger a dog and therefore paying close attention is imperative. With strangers (often including children) in close proximity, even a friendly dog can react unexpectedly. It is owners’ responsibility to ensure their dog shares public space safely with others.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), approximately 20% of people who are bitten by a dog require medical attention. Severe dog bites can include bone fractures, disfigurement, nerve damage and serious infection or disease. If you or a loved one have suffered severe injuries from a dog bite, contact a lawyer who will seek to hold the owner responsible, not the dog.