When Can You Receive Compensation For A Dog Bite From A Homeowner's Insurance Policy?

Posted on: 18 January 2016


Your ability to receive compensation from a unprovoked dog bite is affected by both state law and the homeowner's insurance policy. Both issues contain variables that can make or break a case for a victim of a dog bite.

State law and dog bites

Several states have laws in place that recognize specific breeds of dogs as inherently dangerous, usually because the breed has a tendency to be more aggressive and likely to bit than other breeds. If you live in a state in which the breed of dog that bit you is on the list of dangerous breeds, there is no need to prove negligence on the part of the dog's owner. 

Because they own a dog that is considered inherently dangerous, negligence is already determined to be present in the owner's judgment for owning that specific breed of dog.

However, if you live in a state that doesn't differentiate among breeds when determining liability for a dog bite, the victim must prove the dog owner to be negligent. This may include the owner's inability or unwillingness to keep the dog properly secured or other actions that exposed potential victims to a greater risk of being bitten.

Homeowner's insurance policies and dog bites

Homeowner's insurance providers differ in their policies concerning dog bites. Some companies have their own list of inherently dangerous breeds and refuse coverage and compensation when specific breeds are involved in a biting incident.

Different companies may have completely different ways of handling dog bite coverage. Some homeowner's policies refuse to provide any dog bite coverage, while others charge an extra premium, called an endorsement, to cover dog bite issues.

There are some insurers that have a "one bite" policy, which covers the first occasion but denies any subsequent dog bite claims, while others base coverage on a dog's history. If a dog has had past behavioral issues, whether or not claims were ever filed or compensation granted, coverage may be denied.

Because of all of these combined variables, it may be difficult to receive just compensation for injuries, medical care, lost wages, and other issues. If an insurance company is unwilling to provide compensation for an unprovoked attack by a dog, a personal injury attorney like Walz Law Office should be consulted.

Personal injury lawyers are knowledgeable about state and local laws concerning dog bites, and can pursue compensation through their familiarity with various insurance companies' policies and restrictions and their application in relation to the laws of that state.