Like most people, you probably never imagined that a dog would bite you or a family member. Sadly, dog bite statistics around Maricopa County tell another story. In just five years, almost 2,500 people required serious medical treatment and almost 35,000 people had to visit the emergency room for dog bites in Arizona. How long after a dog bite can you sue in Mesa, AZ?
How Long After a Dog Bite Can You Sue for Damages?
In all of the cities of Maricopa County, the statute of limitations for dog bites is one year. This applies specifically to Arizona dog bites legislation. If you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit instead, you have a maximum of two years to do so. Personal injury claims require more evidence related to the dog’s aggressiveness or the owner’s negligence.
When Does the Statute of Limitations Start?
In most cases, the statute of limitations “clock” starts running as soon as the dog bite or injury happens. Depending on your case, you would have one or two years to take legal action from that day.
Arizona offers a few exceptions to this rule. For example, if the dog’s owner disappears or leaves the state before you can file a lawsuit, the clock “pauses.” Also, when dog bite victims are minors, the statute of limitations may not start until they turn 18. This only applies if the parents don’t take legal action on the child’s behalf, however.
What Are Your Legal Options After Dog Bites in Mesa?
Mesa and other cities in Maricopa County have laws that side with the victims of dog bites. You have several legal avenues for pursuing compensation. The strategy you choose affects how long after a dog bite you can sue.
Insurance Coverage vs Civil Lawsuit
Many homeowners in Mesa have liability coverage as part of their home insurance. You may be able to receive compensation after a dog bite by filing a claim with the owner’s insurance company. We recommend having a lawyer by your side at this point because many insurance companies attempt to trick victims into unfair settlements.
You can also take the dog’s owner to court. A civil lawsuit may be necessary if the person doesn’t have insurance or if the insurer refuses to make a reasonable offer.
Dog Bite Laws for Mesa
When a dog bites someone in Arizona, the owner of the pet is legally liable as long as:
- The dog wasn’t on a leash.
- You were in a public place, or you were on the owner’s property legally.
- You weren’t hurting or provoking the dog or fighting with the owner.
Mesa, AZ, has strict liability for dog bites, which means it’s not necessary to prove a history of aggressiveness. You can sue for a dog bite even if it’s the first time the dog has attacked someone.
Personal Injury Laws in Arizona
Personal injury claims are different. In these cases, you must show that the owner was negligent. Evidence of negligence includes:
- Letting a dog wander around without a leash
- Keeping a dog outside the home without any fencing or enclosure
- Being distracted while walking the dog
- Knowing that the dog is often aggressive or has attacked people before
This type of lawsuit also covers slip-and-fall accidents, cuts, and other injuries related to aggressive animals. For example, if a frightening dog made you trip and fracture a bone, you may be able to sue.
What Happens If You Wait Too Long?
If you forget how long after a dog bite you can sue, and the statute of limitations passes, you lose the foundation for your case. The insurance company doesn’t usually have any obligation to accept your claim. If you try taking the owner to court, the judge may simply throw out the case.
What Type of Compensation Can You Receive in a Dog Bite Case?
Taking legal action ASAP can help you get the dog bite compensation you need and deserve. Damages fall into three different categories:
- Economic damages: Costs of medical treatment, surgery, rehabilitation, and other physical or mental care, in addition to lost wages or work opportunities
- Non-economic damages: Compensation for pain and suffering, disfigurement and scarring, anxiety, PTSD, and other effects on your quality of life
- Punitive damages: Financial penalties imposed on owners who were grossly negligent or directly aggressive
Insurance settlements and lawsuits can help you recover economic and non-economic damages. For punitive damages — perhaps against someone who ordered the dog to attack you — you need to head to court.
What If You’re Negotiating With the Insurance Company Close to the Deadline?
It’s best to begin settlement negotiations — with the help of experienced lawyers — as soon as possible. Once the deadline passes, you lose any bargaining power.
Remembering how long after a dog bite you can sue is especially important in Arizona because many insurance companies try anything to avoid paying. They may delay you or offer much less than what you deserve. If talks aren’t going anywhere, you need to have enough time left on the clock to file a lawsuit.
When Should You Contact a Mesa Lawyer After a Dog Bite?
The most urgent thing after an attack is to get medical attention. Dog bites can be physically devastating, potentially causing deep puncture wounds, lacerations, tendon and muscle injuries, nerve damage, and broken bones. Dangerous infections are common. Call 911 right away.
Follow your doctor’s recommendations for recovery. If possible, have a family member contact our team right away for legal guidance. As soon as it’s safe, you can also contact us directly.
Don’t sign anything from the insurance company without a lawyer present. It’s smart to have legal assistance before even speaking with the owner’s insurer. Otherwise, you may accidentally say something that damages your case.
How Long After a Dog Bite Can You Sue in Mesa?
Dog bite laws in Mesa follow Arizona statutes. You have one year to file a claim for a dog bite or two years for personal injury lawsuits. Don’t wait. Contact our friendly law team in Mesa, AZ, right away. We’re happy to answer your questions, from how long after a dog bite can you sue to what type of evidence you need.