Dog bite injuries can be relatively minor or extremely serious in nature; in some cases, they can even result in permanent injury or death. A dog bite victim may have to take time off from work, or undergo expensive medical surgery for his or her injuries. In these cases, if the dog owner bears responsibility for the attack, he or she may be legally required to pay the victim’s medical expenses and compensate them for lost wages, as well as for pain and suffering damages. However, the dog owner may not be at fault in every situation; in most states, liability (fault) for a dog bite injury depends on whether or not the owner knew his or her dog was dangerous.
When a dog owner fails to realize that his or her dog is capable of attacking someone, or knows the dog is vicious but fails to take precautionary measures like keeping the dog on a leash, the dog may attack and bite someone; on average, nearly 16,500 liability claims involving dog bites are made each year by homeowners through their insurance providers. At Lehmbecker Law, we have covered many dog bite cases, and we are equipped to help you seek damage awards for any personal injury incurred as a result of a dog bite injury.
To recover damages in a dog bite case, the injured party must prove that the dog’s owner knew or should have known that his or her dog had a violent nature; for example, if the dog has attacked people before, or if people have complained about the dog’s violent or dangerous nature in the past, the owner is required to take precautions to protect others from their dog. If the owner does nothing to restrain the dog after being made aware of these indications, he or she is guilty of negligence, and will likely be held at fault for the attack in question.
In other cases, the owner may have taken actions—such as putting a muzzle on the dog, or taking steps to keep the dog confined to a certain area—which demonstrate that the owner knew the dog was dangerous. Depending on the circumstances of your case, the owner may not be held fully liable if appropriate measures were taken to reduce the risk of injury.
Some states have dog bite laws, which hold an owner responsible for any injuries inflicted by his or her dog, whether or not the owner is directly at fault. In these states, the injured party may not need to prove that the owner knew the dog was dangerous. Certain circumstances can, however, also clear the dog owner of blame in a case: for example, if the dog attacked because the injured person provoked him or her, or if the injured person was trespassing on the dog owner’s property when the dog attacked.
Dog Bite Injury Awards
If the dog owner is found at fault, his or her insurance generally covers the damages award. The circumstances of the dog attack determine whether the owner will pay with homeowner’s insurance, car insurance, or animal insurance; in most cases, homeowner’s insurance will end up paying for the damages to the victim, since it covers liability for injuries caused by household pets on the homeowner’s property.
On average, homeowner’s insurance covers damages from $100,000 to $300,000, but many insurance policies will only cover a dog bite once. This means that if the dog bites another person after insurance has already cover damages related to a previous attack, the owner may have to pay damages out of pocket. In addition, some insurance companies may refuse to cover certain dog breeds such as Rottweilers and Pit Bulls.
If a dog bite occurs in a car, homeowner’s insurance may not cover it, or may only cover part of it; in this case, the damages usually come out of the owner’s car insurance. Under certain conditions, both car and homeowner’s insurance will cover a dog bite that occurred in a vehicle.
Finally, animal insurance is another option, especially for dog owners who have already used homeowner’s insurance to cover one offense. Specialty insurance companies may give specific coverage for pet owners with an aggressive or violent dog.
Contact an Experienced Dog Bite Injury Lawyer
Making a legal claim for a dog bite injury that happened to you or a loved one can become a complicated and time-consuming ordeal to investigate, prepare and pursue. Simply proving what the dog owner knew (or did not know) about the nature of their dog can require extensive research and circumstantial evidence.
At Lehmbecker Law, we are proud to represent you as an experienced team that has seen numerous dog bite injury cases in the past 32 years. We do this so that less time is spent figuring out what to do so that more time and resources can be devoted to doing what needs to be done to receive full compensation for your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation, where we will discuss the details of your case and help you move forward with your claim.