Injuries from dog bites are, unfortunately, very common. Although a dog bite may sound trivial, it can result in serious impairment, injury, or death. Each state generally has laws regulating the conduct of dog owners and the situations where an injured party can recover for their injuries. These laws vary wildly based on the jurisdiction. Generally, a dog owner can only be held liable for the injuries their dog causes if they were negligent in some way. However, there is an exception to this rule: if the dog owner had prior knowledge the animal had dangerous propensities then they may be subject to liability. Again, this is not the case in every state, but in many. You need an experienced attorney who knows how to find the potential avenues of recovery and who understands the intricacies of dog bite law and liability. Members of Goodnow|McKay are experienced with these claims and are here to help. We are committed to helping our clients recover fair compensation. We are often able to negotiate reasonable settlements with the responsible insurance companies, but we are willing to fight for our clients through trial if necessary.
In General: Generally, a dog owner is only liable for damages to a victim when they knew their dog had dangerous propensities. Dangerous propensities generally means if the dog had previously attacked someone or if they displayed dangerous and aggressive tenancies. It is important to thoroughly research the owner to find if the owner had previous citations for animal attacks or was previously sued for a similar claim.
Strict Liability: In some jurisdictions, a dog owner is strictly liable for the injuries their dog causes. This means that the dog did not previously have to attack someone or display aggressive tendencies for the owner to be held liable. While there are exceptions, they are relatively narrow and limited, and, in many jurisdictions that use this strict liability standard, the issue of liability will usually be minimal.
Sources of Recovery:
Injury victims will often assert a claim against the dog owner for the damage the owner's dog caused. Often times, the dog owner's insurance must pay for the damage. In these instances it is generally a homeowners' insurance or renters' insurance policy that pays the bill. Unfortunately, if a person does not have insurance, there is a much lower chance of recovery. The situation becomes more complicated because, generally, a dog owner is not required to disclose if they have insurance, their insurance company, or how much insurance they have prior to a lawsuit being filed.
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Chris Goodnow is licensed in Arizona. Justin McKay is licensed in Arizona. Matters in other areas are handled by licensed attorneys employed, associated, or co-counseled with Goodnow|McKay.