What to do if your dog is part of a car crash

10:35 AM, Jan 18, 2018
9:50 AM, Dec 12, 2018

Owning a dog comes with great responsibility. This includes financial responsibility, if your dog causes personal harm to an individual.

Dog-related injuries are typically caused by a dog biting, mauling or otherwise physically harming a person. However, physical dog attacks aren’t the only way a dog can injure someone.

When your dog breaks free of its leash or pen and runs into a road, it could cause a car accident, resulting in both physical injuries and property damage. Dog owners are almost always held liable for Phoenix car accidents caused by their dog being loose.

Dog-related Phoenix car accidents

When you’re driving and a dog runs in front of your vehicle, your natural instinct is to avoid hitting the animal. You might swerve to miss the dog and potentially crash into another vehicle or object.

Alternatively, you might slam on your brakes, which could cause a rear-end collision, if a driver behind you doesn’t react quickly enough to avoid slamming into the back of your vehicle.

Either type of accident could cause personal injuries and/or various types of property damage. Does this mean you’re liable as the dog’s owner? City and state leash laws pretty much answer that question.

Dog leash laws

In Arizona, dogs aren’t permitted to run at large, as ARS 11-1001(2) clearly states, an at large dog is any dog not physically restrained by a leash or properly confined in an enclosure on your property. This same is true in Phoenix, where City Code 8-14also states dogs must be confined within an enclosure on your property or secured by a leash not exceeding six feet. Furthermore, ARS 11-1020 states you’re fully responsible for any personal injuries or property damage caused by your dog being at large.

While there aren’t any leash laws pertaining to cats, if your cat darts into the road and causes an accident, you’ll probably still be financially responsible.




Liability for dog-related accidents

Arizona has strict liability for dog owners when their dogs cause any type of injury, whether it’s a dog bite or car accident. This means you’re automatically responsible for damages. No one has to prove you were negligent in your duty to keep your dog properly penned or restrained, you’re simply held liable.

The only possible defense to a dog-related injury is provocation, which sometimes works in dog bite cases. It’s almost guaranteed you won’t prove the driver of a vehicle provoked your dog to run out in front of their car.

That being said, Arizona is a comparative fault state. Thus, if your dog causes a single car accident, you'll likely be found wholly at-fault as the dog’s owner and your insurance will have to pay for personal injuries and damages. However, if multiple cars are involved in the accident, it’s possible that more than one person will be found at-fault.

The best example is a rear-end collision. The driver who slammed on their brakes might be held partially responsible and the person who rear ended this vehicle might be held partially responsible, especially if they were following too closely. In this scenario, you might share the liability of paying for damages with one or both of these persons. However, since neither person is totally at-fault for the accident, you will pay for at least part of the damages.

Hire top attorneys for Phoenix car accidents

The board certified personal injury attorneys at Lerner and Rowe are experienced in all aspects of Phoenix car accidents, including those where an animal is at fault. We can help you seek compensation for your injuries and damages to your vehicle.

Contact us sooner than later as there are strict statutes of limitations (SOL) for these types of accidents. Strict liability has a one (1) year SOL. After the one (1) year mark there is another one (1) year SOL for negligence (for a total of 2 years).

Call us 24/7 at (602) 977-1900, or use our convenient online LiveChat feature or visit our Phoenix area offices between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday - Friday, for a free consultation.

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