Who is liable for injuries caused by dogs?

Under Arizona law, a dog owner is “strictly liable” for dog bites or injuries caused by its dog.

What does that mean?

If your dog bites or attacks someone who is in a place that they are legally allowed to be, then as the owner, you are responsible for the injuries, the medical bills, the scarring and pain, and suffering.  Period.

Does this rule have any exceptions?  Yes.

There are only two exceptions, being 1) trespassing and 2) provocation.

Remember above, I said so long as the victim is in a place they are legally allowed to be?  The opposite is also true.  If they are a trespasser (no permission to be where they are) when the harm occurs, that is a defense to an attack by your dog.

Also, provocation is a defense, but it must be intentional provocation (someone is poking, teasing, intentionally inciting, etc…).  There is no such defense for an accidental provocation (Example, you stand up from a sofa and accidentally step on a dog’s paw). 

Sometimes, determining who “owned” the dog can be problematic.  Under Arizona law, the term “statutory owner“ comes from the statute which defines the owner as anyone “keeping” an animal for more than six consecutive days. This definition seems clear enough, but the lines get blurred (and stories change) when an incident occurs and someone faces responsibility for an attack.  In the case of Spirlong v. Browne, the Arizona Court of Appeals determined that some exercise of care, custody and/or control of a dog must exist for liability to attach.

There is no doubt, Arizona places the burden of safety on dog owners. 

Questions? Zachar Law Firm has been handling dog bite cases in Phoenix and other Arizona communities for 25 years.  The time frames for bringing a dog bite case are shorter than other injury claims.  If you have a dog bite/attack case, please do not delay.  Call us today for a free consultation.