As animals, dogs will naturally attempt to defend themselves, their territory or other animals (including people) in their pack. As such, although it’s a rare occurrence, even a mild-mannered dog may bite. This can be terrifying for owners and sitters: not only are you dealing with a bloody mess, you might be wondering what could happen to your dog. That’s why it is so important for you as an owner or sitter to understand Arizona’s dog bite laws.

Dog Bite Laws Are Tricky

In Arizona, dog bite laws can be a bit quirky. If there is any kind of delay in presenting a lawsuit and documenting the injury, a dog bite victim may completely miss out on any chance of bringing up a lawsuit. Dog bites can, potentially, lead to the dog being put down. However, dog lovers can be bitten by a dog and seek compensation without having the animal put down. If you can prove the dog was provoked based on circumstances that would lead “a reasonable person” to expect an adverse canine reaction, it’s considered a legal defense against damages.

Who is Responsible?

A dog owner is almost always the responsible party, regardless of whether the bite occurs in public or on their property. Sitters may be considered responsible, however, if injury or property damage occurs while the dog is “at large” (that is, roaming free). If the bite occurs in your home, the recipient of the bite must be there lawfully. That means if the dog bites a sitter or guest, the owner is liable; but if the dog bites a burglar, tough luck for the burglar.

Speaking of crime, police and military dogs who injure a suspect in the line of duty generally get a pass, but even in that situation, the law outlines rights for the victim of a dog bite.

Some homeowner and renter insurance policies do pay for damage caused by a dog bite, but as insurance companies rarely pay out fair compensation it is best to seek legal counsel immediately. If you have been bitten by your own dog or someone else’s, Schiffman Law can help.