#FreeLegalTip: Arizona Dog Bite Lawsuits

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File Dog Bite Lawsuit within One Year

Arizona Dog Bite Lawsuits Should be Filed within One Year

In most cases, Arizona dog bite lawsuits should be filed within one year. This is one of the the exceptions to the standard two-year deadline for filing personal injury lawsuits in Arizona.

There is no One Free Bite Rule in Arizona

Unlike some other statues, there is no “one free bite” rule in Arizona.

Under the “one free bite” rule, a dog owner is not liable for their dog’s first bite. The reasoning is that the owner has no reason to suspect their dog would bite anyone until after the dog has actually bitten someone. After one bite, the owner is responsible for any later bites.

The Arizona legislature has rejected the “one bite rule” and instead has adopted a “strict liability” rule for dog bites.

Strict liability means the owner is liable regardless of the owner’s intent, fault or knowledge. In other words, the dog’s owner does not have to know, or even suspect, that their dog may bite somebody. This includes liability for their dog’s “first” bite.

This law is contained in Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) Section 11-1025, which states in part as follows:

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.

Arizona Revised Statues 11-1025

This law applies even if the dog has a long history of being very friendly with people. It applies even if the dog has never even growled at anyone.

Strict Liability for At-Large Dogs

The Arizona legislature has also passed a law imposing strict liability on owners for damage caused by dogs at large. A.R.S. Section 11-1020 states as follows:

Injury to any person or damage to any property by a dog while at large shall be the full responsibility of the dog owner or person or persons responsible for the dog when such damages were inflicted.

Arizona Revised Statues 11-1020

Again, there is no requirement that the owner have any knowledge, fault or bad intent. If their dog is at large and causes damage, the owner is responsible.

One Year Limitation for Violations of Arizona Statutes

Arizona law provides a one year deadline for filing claims based on the violation of an Arizona statute. In other words, if someone has been injured by a dog in Arizona, they must file a lawsuit within one year of the injury to claim a violation of ether or both of these laws.

In addition to the claims under one of both of these statutes, an injured person can also make a regular “common law” claim for the owner’s negligence. This typically requires proof that the owner knew or had reason to know their dog had a propensity to bite someone. The deadline (statute of limitations) for a common law negligence claim is still two years. However, the statutory violations claims are much stronger and easier to prove. Therefore, in virtualy all circumstances, a dog bite claim should be filed within one year.

Note that if a claim is being made against a governmental agency, the deadline is even shorter. Claims against governmental entities in Arizona must normally be made within 180 days by filing a “notice of claim”. This is typically done before any litigation is filed. This rule applies to dog bite injuries as well as other lawsuits.

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