Phoenix Dog Bite Lawyers
Legal Representation for Victims of Dog Bites and Animal Attacks
If you or your loved one has been harmed in a dog attack, do not hesitate to get in touch with Mark and Alexis Breyer of The Husband & Wife Law Team. Our Phoenix personal injury lawyers have helped numerous victims cope with their injuries and recover as much as physically possible, all by holding at-fault parties responsible for the incident. Get in touch with us and learn more about what we can do to help you.
Who Is at Risk?
Dog attacks can cause devastating injuries in a matter of moments. Most victims never expected to be injured by an animal they see as a friend. Both children and adults alike can be harmed by a dog and carry both physical and emotional scars for many years afterward. Often, dog attacks are the result of careless owners who do not take the right steps to protect friends or strangers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4.7 million dog bites occur annually. About 800,000 of these bites require medical attention. Half of these bite victims are children.
The highest rate of bites occurs among children between 5 and 9 years old, and two-thirds of injuries among children who are younger than 4 years old are to the neck and head region. Boys are much more likely to experience bites than girls, and among adults, men are more likely than women to suffer injuries.
While we like to believe children can come back quickly from falls and tumbles, dog attacks are another story altogether. They can be seriously mauled in an attack and have difficulties recovering physically, as well as emotionally. Children are very impressionable, and a single dog attack can cause them to have a fear of dogs for the rest of their lives. This can be treated with therapy, but you may need to file a claim to recover enough compensation to cover all of your child’s injuries.
The Dangers of a Dog Attack
While dogs are seen as "man's best friend," they are also dangerous. Even small dogs can cause serious injuries because of their sharp teeth. In the event that a large dog attacks, the injuries suffered can be catastrophic. Victims of dog attacks often suffer:
- Broken and crushed bones
- Neck and spinal cord damage
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Brain trauma during falls
- Deep cuts and lacerations
- Muscle and tendon damage
- Blood loss
- Wound infections
Because of the violent nature of dog attacks, many victims can often suffer emotional and mental trauma, making recovery even more difficult.
In addition to emotional trauma, there is also a large risk of developing an infection. A dog’s mouth is a petri dish for bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can easily be transmitted to you in an attack, even if you only suffered a minor bite. In some cases, you may only develop a mild stomach bug, but there is a real risk of developing rabies. The rabies virus is extremely dangerous and, if not treated immediately, it is fatal. Other diseases can also be detrimental to children, the elderly, or anyone with a weakened immune system. Getting a full medical review after a dog bite is important to ensure there are no long-term health effects caused by an attack.
What Is the Cost of a Dog Attack?
Treatment for dog attacks can vary depending on your injuries, the amount of emotional trauma you have suffered, and even your age. A young adult may be able to recover faster from a dog bite than an elderly person; however, this is all dependent on the wounds you suffered.
For bites, doctors may clean the wound, apply bandages and stitches if necessary, and prescribed you medication to ward off infections. These cases can be fairly mild and easy to recover from. But if the dog bites down hard, you may suffer a fracture in your arms or legs, or you can be knocked over and suffer spinal damage. Attacks often occur on sidewalks or at parks and there is a real chance of falling against hard pavement, causing serious internal damage. This is especially true if you hit your head and you may need to be hospitalized to receive diagnostic tests and surgeries. This does not even begin to cover the costs of therapy if you suffered emotional trauma, something that is extremely common for younger dog bite victims.
At the end of the day, your dog bite bill can be relatively small or extremely costly. Paying this out of pocket can be difficult for anyone who lives paycheck-to-paycheck, but you do not have to bear these costs on your own. Dog bites are almost always the responsibility of the dog’s owner, meaning you can file a claim for compensation from them.
What Kind of Compensation Can I Get in a Dog Attack Claim?
Dog bite claims are designed to recover any losses or damages you suffered in the incident, and any future losses the attack will cause. Like any other personal injury claim, the goal is to help you become whole again after the attack. Oftentimes, when calculating compensation for a claim, your attorney will break down your case into two categories: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages will cover the financial aspects of your claim, from your medical bills to lost wages from taking time off of work to recover. In contrast, non-economic damages do not have a price tag attached to them but account for the personal losses caused by the accident, such as physical pain and emotional trauma. Both of these costs do not have to be incurred in the immediate aftermath of a dog attack and can include future losses that develop over time.
Altogether, your claim can include:
- Past and future medical expenses, including testing, surgery, therapy, and assistive equipment
- Lost wages
- Lost career opportunities if you are disabled
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
- Mental anguish
Recovering compensation for both economic and non-economic damages will require a thorough cataloging of your financial and emotional costs. For economic, this can include all bills, receipts, and invoices related to the attack. This makes it easy to calculate a general value of your case, but non-economic is more difficult. Pain and suffering, however, can be supported by your doctor, who can explain the typical amount of pain a victim suffers for certain injuries. You can also keep a journal that logs your ability to perform daily activities, emotional state, and how much pain you feel each day. This way, when it comes time to file a claim, you know how much to demand from the at-fault party.
Who Is Liable for My Dog Bite?
Arizona law (ARS-11-1025) states that dog owners are liable for any attacks and injuries caused by their pets. If you were bitten by a dog while in a public place or while lawfully on someone else's private property, you have the right to file a claim against that dog’s owner. Whether the dog attacked you on someone else's property, while being walked, or while roaming without its owner, the dog owner is the one responsible for the incident. However, the owner is not liable if you were trespassing, teasing or provoking the dog in some way, or acting aggressively toward the dog or its owner.
Dog Bite Client Testimonial
Third Party Liability in a Phoenix Dog Bite Case
We often think of liability in a dog bite case as being straightforward - that the owner must pay - but our experienced legal team knows that these cases can get complex. One way includes a "third party," often involving workers’ compensation.
For instance, if a dog attacks a postal worker or a meter reader, workers’ compensation may kick in, offering a payout before the Phoenix personal injury case is resolved. However, the workers’ compensation office may put a lien on any award from the personal injury case. This kind of "stacking" in on-the-job bite injuries can get confusing, and without proper legal assistance, it can be hard for a victim to figure out whether he is getting all that he deserves. This is a situation where the representation of an experienced dog bite attorney is vital.
How to File a Dog Bite Claim
Dog bite claims involve proving the dog’s owner is liable for your injuries and that you suffered an injury that requires compensation. While it may seem like a simple two-step process, it is actually more complex. For example, if the dog does not have a clear owner or is a stray, filing a claim will be difficult unless an owner is identified. However, if a property owner knew that stray dogs frequent their property and they were a danger to guests or visitors, you may be able to hold them liable in a Phoenix premises liability claim.
Generally, dog bite claims are covered under the owner’s homeowners or renters insurance policy, but not always. Many homeowners policies only cover dog attacks on the owner’s property. Other policies don’t cover certain breeds, such as pit bulls or Rottweilers. And of course, many dog owners will not have insurance.
Plus, trusting an insurance company to award you a sum that is worthy of your injuries is always a mistake. Insurance companies aren’t interested in your welfare—they are interested in making money. The lower the amount they get you to settle for, the more money they keep. If you speak to an insurance adjuster after the attack without an attorney, they may also try to get to accept a quick offer or twist your words in order to make it seem like you provoked the attack or that your injuries are not that serious. Even saying “I’m fine” in response to “How are you?” is enough for them to dismiss your injuries.
You will also need to be aware that you do have a deadline for when you can file a claim in the state of Arizona. This is often referred to as the statute of limitations, and there are two statutes of limitations in Arizona dog bite claims. First, when you don’t have to prove the dog owner knew the dog was prone to biting, you have one year to file a claim. Second, when you do have to prove that the dog owner knew his dog was vicious and prone to biting, you have two years to file a claim. This is why it’s wise to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon after a dog attack as possible. The attorney will assess your case and determine which statute of limitations applies.
Instead, if you have been injured by a dog, you will want to speak to an attorney after getting treatment. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney can explain to you Arizona dog bite laws, what rights to compensation you have, how much your case could be worth, what damages you can recover, and how to pursue a claim. Your attorney will handle all communications with the owner’s insurance company or deal with the owner directly if they do not have an applicable insurance policy. This way you can focus on healing while we handle the legal burdens of your case.
The majority of the time, your claim will be settled outside of a court in a settlement negotiation. However, The Husband & Wife Law Team prepare every case as if we are going to court and need to argue your case before a jury. We will catalog all the relevant evidence, thoroughly review the dog’s history for any signs of violence and develop a detailed case for compensation.
Speak with a Phoenix Dog Bite Attorney at The Husband & Wife Law Team
Successfully pursuing compensation from the party responsible for your injuries can be a complex process, and you may underestimate the ultimate cost of those injuries. Finding the right attorney in Phoenix to represent you in your case is vital in gaining the compensation you need and deserve.
At The Husband & Wife Law Team, our team of Phoenix dog bite attorneys know the serious effects of being attacked, and what it takes to physically and emotionally recover. Whether you or a loved one has been the victim of an animal attack, we can help you hold the at-fault parties responsible, so that you can receive the compensation you need. To learn more, call us today at (602) 457-6222 and receive a free evaluation of your case and the next steps you should take.
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During a free consultation, we will look at the important aspects of your case, answer your questions, and explain your legal rights and options clearly. All submissions are confidentially reviewed by Mark Breyer.
Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer
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