While other states are more lenient when it comes to dog bites, utilizing the “one free bite” rule, Arizona has a standard known as strict liability. This means that whenever a dog bites someone or another owner’s dog, the owner of the attacking dog is held liable for any injury that dog may cause. The owner is held responsible for the attack regardless of whether or not the owner was negligent.
Arizona Revised Statutes section 11-1025 (A) states that 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.
In 2011, Governor Jan Brewer signed House Bill 2137. The bill is also known as “Fabian’s Law”, named after a couple’s miniature poodle that was fatally mauled in 2009 by a neighbor’s unleashed pit bull. The bill was pushed to state legislation by the victim’s owners when they discovered they could not hold the pit bull’s owner responsible.
The law’s provisions include:
- A Class 1 misdemeanor if the dog owner fails to control the dog in a manner that prevents the dog from biting or attacking a person or domestic animal at all times while the dog is on or off the owner’s property.
- A Class 3 misdemeanor if an aggressive dog escapes a residence, enclosed area, yard or structure.
- A Class 3 felony if a person who intentionally or knowingly causes any dog to bite and inflict serious injury to a person unless the person justifies that those circumstances were self-defense.
- A Class 5 felony, increasing from a class 1 misdemeanor, if a person who owns a dog that the owner knows or has reason to know has a history of biting or a propensity to cause injury or to otherwise endanger the safety of human beings without provocation or that has been found to be a vicious animal and inflicts physical injury on or attacks a person.
These laws do not apply to police or military dogs that bite a person if the dog is defending itself from a harassing or provoking act, or assisting an employee in:
- The apprehension or holding of a suspect where the employee has reasonable suspicion of the involvement of criminal activity
- The investigation of a crime or possible crime
- The execution of a warrant
- Defense of a peace officer or another person
Being bitten by a dog can cause serious injury and become traumatizing to the victim. After treating the wound, it is important to contact legal representation that has a vast knowledge of dog bite injury cases. Please contact Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience today for a free initial consultation.