Liability for Dog Bites During Holiday Parties
One of the best parts of Thanksgiving and the other Holidays at the end of the year is spending time with friends and family. However, the increase in houseguests can be overwhelming for the family dog, and he or she may become unusually aggressive and bite or attack someone.
Dog bites can cause severe injuries, particularly to children and the elderly, resulting in significant medical expenses and recovery times. That is why it is important to learn more about when dog owners could potentially be held liable for dog bite injuries.
Dog Bite Liability in Arizona
In Arizona, dog bite liability falls under a strict liability standard. That means dog owners may be held liable for dog bites even if they did not know their dog might bite or the dog had never bitten anyone before.
This legal standard is much more friendly to dog bite victims than a one-bite rule or the legal theory of negligence. In states that use a one-bite rule, owners can only be held liable if the dog bit someone before or the owner knew the dog was aggressive. In a negligence claim, victims must prove the owner violated a duty of reasonable care and this directly led to their injuries.
However, in a strict liability state, victims only need to prove two things:
- Their injuries were caused by the dog
- The attack/bite happened while the victim was in public or in a private place and the victim had a legal right to be there
If you’re invited to someone’s house for Thanksgiving or some other Holiday get-together, and you’re bitten by their dog you can hold them liable for medical bills and other damages.
A common defense that dog owners use in a dog bite case is that the victim provoked the dog. In the case of an injury at a Holiday party, it is possible the dog was provoked. Children may tease the dog or bother it while it is eating. If your dog is not used to a lot of people, this could easily result in an attack.
However, this defense is not effective unless the dog’s owner provides proof of how the dog was provoked.
Preventing Dog Bites When You Have Guests
It is important to take precautions when you plan to have guests over for the Holidays or any other time. This is especially true if your dog is not used to being around people who do not live in your home.
You may want to consider keeping your dog in another room while having guests over. You can put food, water and toys in the room so your dog will have what it needs.
If your dog stays at a friend or neighbor’s house when you go out of town, you may want to ask them if they are available to watch your dog while you are having guests over.
If your dog has not bitten or been aggressive with anyone in the past, and is usually fine with having people over, it may be fine to let the dog roam around during your party/get-together.
However, if children will be coming over, you may want to keep a close eye on how they interact with the dog. You could even ask their parents to tell them to be gentle and respectful of the dog to avoid any problems.
You know your dog best, so if you know the dog is uncomfortable around strangers, let your guests know this. Sometimes all it takes is a little caution to prevent a dog from getting scared and biting someone.
Precautions to Take to Avoid Dog Bites at Holiday Gatherings
If you see a dog tensing up, snarling, growling, pinning his or her ears back, or looking irritated, these could all be signs that the dog is about to snap.
If the dog is aggressive toward you are any of guests, you should calmly ask the host to remove him or her from the situation.
Call Phillips Law Group After a Dog Bite Injury
Our Phoenix dog bite lawyers are prepared to review your situation in a free legal consultation. We may be able to pursue compensation for the damages caused by your dog bite.
There are no upfront fees. We do not get paid unless our clients receive compensation.
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