Dog Bites

Arizona Injury Accident Attorney Rudy Resendez > Dog Bites

Dog Bites

Phoenix Dog Bite Attorney

In dog-loving America, Arizona leads the pack. The United States has the world’s highest overall and per-capita dog ownership rates, and Arizona has the highest percentage of dog owners in the U.S., with nearly half (47.9%) of AZ households having at least one canine.

People who own dogs tend to consider them a member of the family, and “man’s best friend” usually returns the favor with its trademark loyalty. America’s love affair with their dogs, however, also has a darker side: around 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year. Half of these bite victims are children, and 1 in 5 bites warrants medical attention.

Prompted by the recent mauling of a four-year old Phoenix boy by a Pit Bull, the state health depart-ment looked more closely at Arizona dog-bite statistics and turned up some hair-raising numbers. But the research effort also honed in on the fact that dog bites are preventable and often result from negligent dog owners.

Owning a dog is a responsibility as well as a privilege. Arizona has strict dog-bite laws that hold owners liable for a single attack, regardless of whether the dog has a history of aggression.

If you, your child or another loved one was attacked by a dog, Resendez Injury Law Group can help you recover compensation for medical care and other dog-bite related losses.

To learn more through a free case review, call Resendez Law at (602) 824-9444 or send us a message.

Arizona’s Dog Bite Problem

Vicious attacks such as the one that caused little Kevin Vincente severe facial injuries can make the dog-bite problem appear worse than it actually is. But a report by the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) shows that severe dog bites in Arizona have sharply increased. The report, based on a recent five-year period, shows that:

  • There were 34,151 emergency department (ED) visits and 2,358 inpatient hospitalizations (requiring at least one overnight stay) for dog-bite related injuries. Dog-bite hospitalizations increased 139% during the study period.
  • Healthcare charges for dog bite injuries during the five years totaled $55 million. The average hospitalization cost $17,000 while an ED visit averaged $1,150.
  • More than 70% of dog bites occurred in homes.

The age group most likely to visit the ED for an Arizona dog bite was children 14 and younger. Victims between the ages of 35 and 64 were most-often hospitalized for dog bites.

Wounds of the hand were the principal diagnosis in over 14% of cases. Dog-bite injuries also commonly occurred to the knee, leg, ankle, forearm, fingers and face.

Filing a Dog Bite Lawsuit

While some states allow dogs “one free bite,” Arizona does not. Arizona dog bite victims do not have to show that the owner was negligent in controlling the dog, although the owner is allowed to argue as a defense that the attack was provoked by the victim.

A possible exception to Arizona’s “strict liability” dog bite statute involves a trespasser who illegally enters somebody’s property and is bitten. Police and military dogs that bite in the line of duty, further-more, in most cases don’t impose liability on their human handlers.

If you are bitten by a dog in a public place or private place, however, including at the dog owner’s home, the owner can be held liable for damages. Those damages, as the statistics above show, often approach $20,000, and insurance industry data shows that the average dog bite claim nationwide is around $28,000.

This leads to an important point. You may be hesitant to sue a dog owner for medical bills and other damages because that person is a friend or relative. Over 70% of AZ dog bites occur in homes, so there’s a strong likelihood that the owner is known to the victim.

A dog bite that occurs in the owner’s home will probably be covered by their homeowners insurance. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) says that dog-bite claims account for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims.

Dog bites may also be covered by auto insurance if the bite occurs in a car or the back of a pickup truck. Some pet owners also carry animal insurance that could provide bite victim compensation.

But even if the dog’s owner has no animal bite coverage, you are entitled to sue for damages. The alternative is that you and your family bear medical bill and related losses alone.

Legal Help From an Experienced AZ Dog Bite Attorney

It’s understandable if you want to avoid dog bite legal action out of sympathy for the dog or the dog’s owner, but this decision isn’t in your best interests, especially if you’ve incurred significant dog-bite related costs.

At the very least, it’s worth discussing the incident with an experienced dog bite lawyer. Resendez Injury Law Group will listen to your side of the story and advise you on what to do next with honesty, competence and personalized attention.

Contact us today and get started with a free case review.

From our Phoenix offices we serve clients in Peoria, Avondale, Goodyear, Buckeye, Surprise, Mesa, Scottsdale, Chandler, Tempe, Gilbert, Queen Creek and all other areas of Arizona including Flagstaff, Yuma and Gila Bend.

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