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When You Lose a Finger to Dog Bite, Who’s Liable?

By The Husband and Wife Law Team on February 25, 2018

Because dogs were domesticated from wolves, they’ve inherited many of the physical attributes of their ancestors. One of these attributes is a dog’s incredibly powerful jaws and sharp, pointed teeth. These were important to the dog’s forefathers for ripping flesh and crushing bone. Some of today’s larger, domesticated dogs have jaw strength equal to 200 pounds of pressure per square inch. That is easily enough “bite power” to sever or permanently damage a human finger—especially the finger of a child.

In October 2017, a Texas woman lost part of her finger while trying to mend her fence. Her neighbor’s pit bull rammed his face into the fence and bit off the top segment of her middle finger, and doctors were forced to remove more in surgery. In Colorado, a toddler did something similar—stuck her finger through a fence—and the two pit bull mixes next door attacked it. But don’t think that this danger is limited to certain breeds—one man had his finger ripped off by a golden retriever he’d known since it was a puppy, in a public park!

There are many dangers of animal bites, and finger loss is a major one. It will affect a person’s entire future and ability to perform many jobs. As such, it’s only right that the owner of the dog make amends to the victim.

Who Is Liable?

While most dogs truly are “man’s best friend,” a dog will bite a human being under certain circumstances, usually in stressful situations where the animal is hurt, being protective, or feeling threatened. Other dogs may bite because they’ve been trained to or have been abused. In any case, under Arizona Revised Statutes § 11-1025, a dog’s owner or custodian has strict liability for his or her pet’s actions. The only exceptions to this law are if the person bitten was provoking the dog, trespassing on the property where the dog was contained, or acting aggressively toward the dog or its owner.

Depending on the occupation and lifestyle of the bite victim, the loss of a finger or use of a finger can increase the amount of compensation the victim can be awarded in a civil claim. In addition to the normal medical bills, a person like a musician or typist, who relies on his or her fingers to make a living, might receive greater compensation for the loss. Loss of a finger or the use of one can also result in compensation for hedonic damages. Hedonic damages are an economic value assigned to the loss of joy of life. If the bite victim loses the ability to perform an activity he previously enjoyed, like participating in an amateur sport, the court can assess a monetary value to that loss.

Get a Phoenix Lawyer from The Husband & Wife Law Team on Your Side

If you’ve lost a finger or the use of a finger due to a dog bite, you need to contact an experienced Phoenix dog bite lawyer. To find out more about your legal rights and options, please call The Husband & Wife Law Team. Dial (602) 457-6222 for a free consultation.

Posted in: Dog Bite

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