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Arizona has several statues that govern dog bites, including A.R.S. 11-1025 on liability for dog bites through 11-1027 on provoking a dog. Arizona is known as a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites, which mean that the owner of the dog can be held liable for injuries and damages regardless of the owner’s negligence or knowledge of the attack. This is different than many states, which have a “one bite free” policy. In these states, the first time a dog bites someone, the owner may not be held liable for damages. But in Arizona, there is not such policy, and an owner can be held legally responsible no matter how many times the dog has bitten someone. If someone who is not the owner of the dog is present and caring for the dog at the time of the attack, the caretaker and the owner may be jointly held liable for the victim’s damages.
Nevertheless, there might still be some difficult legal or factual issues in
establishing an owner’s liability. The defendant might try to avoid paying
damages on any of several grounds.
It’s important to note that negligence or lack of knowledge of the violent propensity of a dog is not required in order for an owner to be held responsible. So even if the owner properly owned the dog, he or she can still be responsible for damages if the dog attacks someone. A.R.S. 11-1025 states that the owner can be held liable if the attack happens on public property, or if the victim is lawfully on
The statue also says that the viciousness of the dog, or the owner’s knowledge of its viciousness, does not impact the owner’s liability. That means that even if the dog was, up to that point, not very aggressive, the owner can still be held liable for damages.
If it’s determined that the dog bite was the result of the victim provoking the dog, the owner cannot be held liable for damages. Provocation is defined in A.R.S. 11-1027 as “circumstances [that] would be likely to provoke a dog.” Though A.R.S. 11-1025 states that the owner is liable on private property that is lawfully entered, according to A.R.S. 11-1026 the dog owner may still be responsible for a victim who is attacked on private property unlawfully.