Most homeowners carry liability insurance that protects against losses from fire or theft, as well as some form of comprehensive general liability insurance that covers them for injuries that visitors to their property might experience. California homeowners should not assume, however, that their insurance protects them from liability when their dog or another animal on their property bites and injures another person.
Los Angeles personal injury lawyer Sean Salamati represent victims of dog bites and other animal-related injuries in southern California. The Salamati Law Firm will fight to get you the damages you deserve to reimburse you for your medical expenses and other losses.
Homeowners and liability insurance will cover dog bite injuries if the insurance policy’s terms and conditions specifically mention that those injuries are covered and if the policy does not include an opt-out provision for dog injuries. If the policy does not mention dog bite injuries or it is vague or unclear regarding coverage, the homeowner should discuss the matter with his or her insurance agent. The best practice is always to verify a policy’s coverage for dog bite risks rather than to assume that those risks are included.
Some insurance companies and policies do exclude certain dog breeds from bite coverage, particularly if those breeds are believed to be more aggressive or dangerous. Even if a specific dog has a gentler nature, if its breed is on the list of excluded breeds, injuries caused by that dog will not be covered by insurance. A homeowner that owns one of those excluded breeds should review his or her policies for breed exclusions and, if available, should purchase a separate insurance rider to cover dog bite risks with that breed.
Californians file more than 2,000 insurance claims every year relating to injury-causing interactions with dogs and other animals. Some of those claims stem from injuries that happen when an animal knocks someone over or pushes an object that collides with and injures the victim. Again, the specific language of a homeowner’s policies will determine whether insurance coverage is available for those injuries.
What about a dog bite injury that happens when a dog wanders off of its owner’s property, or when the dog lunges at and knocks another person over when the homeowner is walking the dog? The coverage question under these circumstances will focus on whether the homeowner was negligent in any manner.
If the homeowner has trained the dog to attack and then commands the dog to go after another person, the injuries that the dog then causes will likely not be covered by insurance because that attack is intentional and not negligent.
The average recovery for a dog bite insurance claim in California is approaching $50,000. This recovery generally includes a victim’s medical costs and expenses and compensation for matters such as lost wages, pain and suffering, and related damages. The actual compensation that a dog bite victim will receive is always dependent on the specific facts on the case. Further, homeowners and general liability insurance policies often cap the amount that an injured party can recover through insurance payments. An injured party will need to pursue a lawsuit directly against the dog’s owner for damages that are over insurance policy caps.
Dog ownership confers certain responsibilities on the animal’s owners, including the obligation to take all reasonable steps to prevent the dog from biting or injuring other persons and to maintain insurance to cover liability for those risks.
When a homeowner has failed in that responsibility, and you have suffered serious dog bite injuries, please see the form on our website or call the Salamati Law Firm for a no-fee consultation with a Los Angeles dog bite attorney. Our firm represents injured parties in Los Angeles and throughout southern California to get the compensation they deserve for damages incurred from their dog bit injury.