In addition to the obvious threats posed by a dog’s teeth and claws, there is a lesser-known danger caused by dog fright. Cynophobia, or an overwhelming fear of dogs, is common in Arizona and around the world. In some cases, an individual’s fear of dogs can be enough to lead to serious injuries if a dog is encountered unexpectedly or gives chase – even if the dog did not attack, bite or behave aggressively.
Defining “Dog Fright”
“Dog fright” in personal injury law refers to a fear of dogs that results in someone suffering an injury while trying to avoid, evade or run away from a dog. A postal service worker who is afraid of dogs, for example, may run away from one that is unrestrained, even if the dog was not being aggressive. If the worker trips and falls while running, he or she could suffer injuries such as a sprained wrist or broken arm. These are referred to as dog fright injuries.
Dog fright injury cases do not necessarily have to deal with chasing. A dog lunging at a door or fence can also cause injury if a victim jumps back or falls, especially down a flight of stairs. Another example is a dog barking at a bicyclist and startling the biker enough to cause him or her to crash the bike.
Can You Recover Compensation for Injuries Caused by Dog Fright?
Anyone could be startled enough by a dog to react in a way that results in injury, even if the individual does not have a history of cynophobia. Victims of dog fright incidents may be able to hold the dog owner liable (financially responsible) for their injuries. However, Arizona’s strict liability dog bite law does not apply to these cases. This law states that a pet owner is strictly liable – responsible without requiring proof of negligence – for injuries caused by a dog bite.
If a dog causes an injury due to dog fright, a victim must prove that the pet owner was negligent to recover financial compensation. Negligence means a breach of the duty of care, or someone falling short of the accepted standard of care. If a pet owner negligently caused or failed to prevent a case of dog fright, his or her property insurance company may be liable for the victim’s medical bills and other expenses.
One example of pet owner negligence is allowing a dog to wander a neighborhood without a leash or supervision. If a dog running at large barks, chases, lunges, jumps on or otherwise scares an individual enough to result in a dog fright injury, the owner can be held responsible. These cases may be more difficult to prove than traditional dog bite claims but they can still result in financial compensation.
What Do You Need to Prove in a Dog Fright Injury Case?
If you were injured in any way by a dog in Arizona, regardless of whether the dog meant to harm you, you may be eligible for financial compensation. In a dog fright case, you or your personal injury lawyer must prove that your injuries would not have occurred were it not for the negligent act or omission of the pet owner. Your lawyer will also need to show that the actions of the dog were enough to cause a reasonable person to take defensive action – such as jerking back or running away – which resulted in your injury.
All pet owners have a duty to control their dogs to prevent harm to others, including harm caused by a fear of dogs and foreseeable dog-fright responses. If a pet owner falls short of this duty of care and someone suffers serious injuries as a result, liability can be assigned to the owner. Discuss your recent dog fright injury with an attorney at Stone Rose Law for more information about this unique type of claim.