I recently settled a case involving a horrible attack by two dogs who escaped off of the owner’s property and viciously attacked my Client who was simply walking down the street a short distance from his residence. My Client suffered catastrophic injuries, but with any personal injury matter there is always a concern with insurance coverage. In this instance there was insurance coverage, but the insurance coverage was less coverage than the value of his injuries.
If your dog bit someone, initially you must determine if your homeowner’s policy or renter’s policy covers your dog from biting someone? Many policies exclude certain breeds of dogs and if you own a pit bull or certain other breeds of dogs, with this type of provision in your policy, there is a substantial likelihood that an injury caused by your dog will not be covered and you will then be subjected to personal financial responsibility for the attack. Because California law is strict liability for dog bites, there is no real escape from financial responsibility. Further, if your dog has previously bitten someone, you might be personally subject to punitive or exemplary damages which are typically paid from your own pocket and not from liability insurance coverage.
Certainly, people love their pet dogs; but owning a dog is a responsibility and there are accompanying duties associated with such ownership. Check with your insurance agent to determine if your dog is covered. If your dog has aggressive tendencies, do not put the dog into a situation wherein it might bite, or always muzzle the dog in any potential situation wherein the dog might become aggressive. If your dog is not good around kids, then keep your dog away from children or lock the dog away if children are in your house. Again, with strict liability it simply does not matter if a child pulls the dog’s tail or the dog’s ears and it bites. Sadly, if your dog does bite someone it simply is not a wise idea to keep the dog as a pet and you and your family members need to train the dog in a manner that biting and snapping at anyone is not acceptable.
Personal liability limits control the coverage of your dog and should be commensurate with your personal worth. Like owning a car, owning a dog requires a monetary expense and not having coverage for your dog is just as foolish as not having coverage for your automobile.
Please feel free to contact my office should you have any questions involving a dog bite.