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Dog Bite Lawsuits and Homeowner’s Insurance: What You Need to Know

If you were bitten by someone else’s dog, you can file a dog bite lawsuit against them. Their homeowner’s insurance will likely pay for your injuries and losses if your case succeeds. A dog bite lawyer can tell you what you need to know to about filing such a suit.

Does Homeowner’s Insurance Coverage Include Dog Bite Injury Claims?

In most cases, yes. The reasoning for this is that the dog is part of the owner’s property or household. As such, any injury inflicted by the dog, regardless of whether the injury occurred inside or outside of the owner’s property, should fall within the scope of their homeowner’s insurance.

What Homeowner’s Insurance Covers

As part of your case, you will have to explain in detail what kinds of injuries you suffered, how bad they are, and how much money you believe they are worth. A personal injury attorney can help you calculate how much the insurer should pay you for:

  • Physical pain and distress
  • Emotional trauma
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of wages (for short-term inability to work)
  • Loss of earning capacity (for long-term inability to work)

If Homeowner’s Insurance Does Not Cover Dog Bites

In the rare cases when a homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover a dog bite injury, the owner may choose to purchase animal liability insurance. This type of policy specifically covers injuries and losses inflicted by an animal attack.

While animal liability insurance is not typically mandatory, your dog bite attorney can still check to see if the owner in your case has any. 

What You Need to Know About Establishing Dog Bite Liability

To bring a successful case, you need to prove the homeowner’s liability for dog bites. This could require you to establish that:

  • The owner is liable for any damage their dog causes. This is often codified in state law, such as California’s CIV § 3342(a).
  • The dog bit you for no reason. You generally cannot collect damages if you provoked the dog in some way, so you will need to use evidence like testimony or video footage to show you did nothing wrong.
  • The person you are suing is responsible for the dog that attacked you. Your attorney can use the dog’s license and testimony from neighbors to prove this.
  • The dog bite has left you with noticeable injuries. Your medical records, bills, and receipts can establish that you have paid a heavy financial, physical, and psychological price for the owner’s negligence.

Dog Bite Lawyers and Your Lawsuit

After a dog bite, you have plenty of things to worry about, including receiving medical care and figuring out how to support your family if you cannot work. That is why it is a good idea to hire an attorney as soon as possible.

If you were the victim of a dog attack, the legal process for seeking compensation may follow the steps outlined below. However, each case is different, and your personal injury attorney may recommend you take a different path:

  • To start, your lawyer can look at the canine aggression laws in your state and determine which ones were violated by the negligent owner. They will also collect evidence to help reconstruct what happened on the day of the attack and establish the worth of your injuries.
  • As part of their investigation, your representative can calculate how much your injuries are worth and negotiate with the insurer to get that amount for you.
  • Your attorney can communicate with the homeowner’s insurance company on your behalf, so you do not need to worry about having to watch your words around them.
  • Finally, your dog bite lawyer can help you decide if and when you should take your case to trial (e.g. if the insurer stops responding to your communications or refuses to negotiate fairly). Most cases settle out of court and do not get this far.

Know the Time Limit on Dog Bite Lawsuits in Your State

Dog bites typically fall under the standard statute of limitations, or deadline, set by each state. In California, for instance, this deadline is two years from the date of injury, per CCP § 335.1. Other states may give you more or less time.

If you miss the deadline, the court will not permit you to seek compensation, no matter how much you need it. Acting quickly can protect your rights following a dog bite.

How Homeowner’s Insurance Companies Respond to Dog Bite Lawsuits

You may have never had to file a claim or a lawsuit with any insurer before. If you have done so, it was an unusual event that you likely never expected to repeat.

This is not the case with insurance companies. They deal with claims and lawsuits on a regular basis, so they are well-acquainted with all of the pertinent laws. They even keep lawyers on hand to protect them against such suits by undermining the plaintiffs’ cases and minimizing what they have to pay to dog-bite victims.

You Need to Know How to Protect Yourself From the Insurance Company

When faced with a lawsuit, the insurer will do whatever they can to protect their bottom line. Hiring a personal injury lawyer can protect you against the insurer’s tactics because your legal representative:

  • Is part of your team and will do everything they can to protect your interests
  • Knows about the connection between dog bite lawsuits and homeowner’s insurance and what you need to know about each
  • Can tell you what to say and what not to say about your case
  • Can represent you at meetings with the insurer and accompany you if and when the insurance adjuster wants to interview you

Our Team Files Dog Bite Lawsuits for People Like You

Call KJT Law Group at (818) 507-8525 for a free case review today. We can tell you what you need to know about dog bite lawsuits, homeowner’s insurance, and how to fight for the money you need to cover your losses. Our team’s goal is always to make our clients’ lives easier by working hard for them—and for you.

We Will Fight For You

Contact our firm to get started.
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