If a dog bites somebody in Arizona and that dog has never bitten anybody before is anybody liable?
This is a question we hear on a frequent basis from people who call up when they were bitten by a dog from a family that they knew or from a neighbor that they knew. Many times, dogs that are not otherwise dangerous and do not appear dangerous bite for seemingly no reason or they bite someone in a way that is unexpected and truly surprising to everybody who has known the dog. Does that mean that the person who gets bit has no recourse because there was no “negligence” by the owner of the dog?
In Arizona there is no “one free bite” allowance. In other words, in instances of Arizona dog bites, with very few exceptions, the owner of the dog is liable for any injury that was caused. It does not matter if everybody agrees that the dog is not normally dangerous. It does not matter that it can be proven that the dog had never acted this way before and nobody would have expected the dog to bite. Arizona law protects the bite victim, not the dog owner. What should we learn from this? First, if you own a dog make sure you have homeowner’s insurance. No matter how loving dogs are and how much we all love to have them, dogs can act in unexpected ways. Having homeowner’s insurance protects you.
This also tells us that any time somebody has been injured because of a dog bite, even if that dog is not normally dangerous, they have the right to seek compensation. What many people do not realize is that compensation does not have to be sought directly from the owner of the dog, but often through the homeowner’s insurance of the person who owns the dog.