If somebody is bit by a dog in Arizona, can the owner of the dog argue that the victim caused the bite?
For instance, dogs often bite for unexpected reasons in reaction to something that a human does. Sometimes, the person that is bit startled the dog and caused the dog to bite. In other cases, it may be something as simple as holding a piece of food and turning away from the dog or, in many cases that we have seen, petting and playing with the dog and then turning away only to be unexpectedly bitten by a dog that was never before believed to be dangerous.
Many victims of dog bites in these situations blame themselves. Also, the owners of the dogs, understandably protective of the family pet that they love so much, do not blame the dog who has never bitten before but blames the person who got bit.
Who is “responsible” in a traditional sense is really not the question for people who have been bit by a dog in Arizona. Instead, the question is legal liability. In other words, who is responsible to pay for the medical bills, the effects of the scarring, the time from work, and all the other effects of the dog bite? In Arizona the person who was bit, the victim, is almost never to blame as a matter of law.
The only exception to this rule that is regularly seen is what is called under the law “provocation.” In other words, if you have some mean-spirited person who is throwing stones at the dog or poking the dog or purposely trying to set the dog off, thereby provoking the attack, that person is not allowed to make a claim. Or, to put it a better way, they are going to lose if they are found to have provoked the dog. This is an important exception to the law because nobody should be able to gain anything under our system for their own wrongful conduct. However, startling a dog, scaring a dog, or doing other things accidentally – even if they were the cause of an otherwise calm dog snapping and biting – do not create liability on the part of the victim.
With the exception of somebody who provokes a dog to bite, there is almost no defense in almost any case. The victim of a dog bite in Arizona does not have to worry about trying to defend themselves because they were not experts in the handling of dogs, nor do they have to worry about trying to prove that the dog was dangerous. There are many dogs who are not “dangerous” in most circumstances that for unexpected reasons do attack or bite. Under those circumstances, it is the owner of the dog who is liable (usually with the help of their insurance company defending them and paying for their liability) and the victim has the right to make a claim. If you know anybody who is in this situation or you would like more information about a dog bite, be sure to contact a Phoenix personal injury attorney who has expertise in helping dog bite victims after they have been injured.