Under ARS §11-1025, dog owners in Arizona are strictly liable to compensate a victim for a dog bite even if their dog had never bitten anyone or did not know about the dog's vicious nature. If you want to receive the maximum recovery in your settlement, you need to avoid mistakes that weaken your claim. Here are the leading errors dog bite victims make that you want to avoid making.
#1: Not Obtaining Contact Information
If you do not obtain the contact information for the dog's owner immediately after you are bitten, you may not be able to locate them. You would need the owner's information in order to file a claim with their homeowner's or renter's insurance company. You also need this information for the dog handler if they were taking care of the dog for the owner when you were bitten, as they may face liability to compensate you too.
#2: Not Seeking Prompt Medical Care
Another big mistake is to delay seeking prompt medical care for your injuries. This could cause your injuries to become worse. Even if you believe you suffered a "minor" dog bite, you should be examined by a doctor so that the wound does not become infected.
In addition, you would cause problems when you file your claim. The insurance company could argue that another dog attacked you or that your injuries are not as serious as you claim.
#3: Not Reporting the Dog Bite
Under Arizona law, anyone with direct knowledge of a dog bite must report the attack immediately to a county enforcement official. You would be violating the law by not contacting the county animal control or other government agency immediately.
#4: Not Taking Pictures
You will lose valuable evidence if you do not take pictures of the dog, the accident scene, and your injuries. They may be useful to show the insurance adjuster when you file your case and can also be powerful evidence to show to the jury if your case goes to trial.
#5: Not Getting Witness Information
Another mistake that could make it harder to prove your case is not obtaining the contact information of any witnesses to the dog attack. They can help corroborate that the dog attack occurred and how it happened. A witness's testimony and written statement would be especially persuasive if they do not know you and have no stake in your claim. However, you may be unable to find these witnesses if you do not get their contact information immediately.
#6: Talking to the Insurance Company
You could make serious mistakes that hurt your case and give the insurance company ammunition to deny your claim or pay you less than you deserve if you talk to the insurance adjuster. Here are a few ways you could weaken your claim:
- You may say something, such as "I’m sorry,” that the insurance adjuster tries to claim is an admission of your own negligence when the dog bit you.
- You could agree to give a recorded statement, which is a question and answer session with the insurance company that is recorded and transcribed into a written document. Even if you are careful, they could ask you confusing questions that cause you to give answers they can use against you.
- You could agree to accept a quick settlement of your claim for far less compensation than you deserve.
#7: Not Hiring an Attorney
Another common mistake dog bite victims make is to wait to hire a knowledgeable dog bite attorney. This is a costly error you want to avoid. A lawyer will take over all communications with the insurance company, collect the evidence you need to build a winning case, value your claim, and negotiate your settlement. They will file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires and litigate your claim if necessary.
Did you suffer injuries in a dog bite in Flagstaff or Northern Arizona? Our experienced personal injury attorneys are here to help. Order our free book, Injured in Northern Arizona: What Happens Next Is Up to You. Then call our Flagstaff office at 928-226-0165 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation today.