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By: Murphy & Murphy Law Offices

Dog Bite Insurance Coverage

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When Does Insurance Cover a Dog Bite Injury? 

Dogs have been the domesticated companions of humans for thousands of years, but that does not mean they’ve lost all of their wild instincts. Even the most gentle dog has the potential to lash out if startled, scared, or hurt, with grave consequences for the victims of their bites. Unfortunately, thousands of Americans are injured yearly by dog bites, often leaving them with large medical bills, lost wages, and possibly even permanent disabilities.

If someone else’s dog has seriously injured you, you can bring a claim against their homeowner’s insurance to cover your medical expenses up to their coverage limits. While this may not be enough to fully pay for your medical care if your injuries are severe, filing a homeowner’s insurance claim is usually the starting point for most dog bite victims seeking compensation for their damages. If the damages are beyond the dog owner’s coverage limits, they could be held personally liable for those expenses. 

What California Laws Are in Place Regarding Dog Bites? 

California dog owners are held strictly liable when their dog harms someone else. This means they are responsible for the actions of their pet, regardless of whether they realized their animal had the potential to cause harm or if they took every reasonable precaution to prevent the incident. In contrast to some other states where a history of vicious behavior on the part of the dog must be established before the owner can be held liable, California law considers the owner responsible even if this is the first time the dog has injured someone.

There are some limited cases where the owner may not be strictly liable. For example, if the victim was trespassing at the time of the injury, they would likely not be able to bring a claim. The second case is if the victim was actively taunting or harassing the dog at the time of the injury, the owner may not be held responsible or may be found only partially liable. Because it can be challenging to establish what was happening at the time of the bite, it is essential for a victim to enlist the help of a skilled dog bite lawyer so the insurance company does not try to blame the victim for the attack. 

Does Homeowners Insurance Coverage Extend to Dog Bites? 

As mentioned above, the pet owner’s homeowner’s insurance should cover medical bills and other expenses resulting from a dog bite, even if the incident happened at a location other than their home, such as a dog park or beach. If the pet owner lives in an apartment, their rental insurance may or may not include dog bite injuries, depending on their coverage. A knowledgeable dog bite lawyer can investigate their rental insurance plan to determine whether or not you can make a claim.

If you have been bitten and have injuries, you should seek immediate medical attention and gather as much information from the dog’s owner as possible. Collect their name, phone number, address, and insurance information. You may also wish to file a police report to have an official record of the incident. 

When Should You Contact a Ventura Personal Injury Lawyer for Your Dog Bite Injury? 

If your dog bite injury is severe and you are facing medical bills, lost time at work, or ongoing physical issues, it is time to consult a lawyer. They can provide information on your legal options and help you file a claim with the appropriate insurance company. A dog bite lawyer will ensure that the blame for the incident is not unfairly shifted to you, and they will help you recover the compensation you deserve for your losses.

If you are uncertain how to file a homeowner’s insurance claim for a dog bite or have any questions about your legal rights, contact an experienced California dog bite lawyer today for a free consultation: (805)330-3393.