For insurance companies nationwide, the cost of dog bites has top more than $500 million every year that is paid out mostly by homeowner’s insurance policies and renters insurance coverage. However, the total amount of out-of-court settlements and jury awards at the end of a successful trial top more than $1 billion every year, meaning another $500 million in payouts is absorbed by pet owners. This is because many dog bites leave the victim with severe disfigurement and the need for extensive reconstructive surgeries and medical treatments.
Serious Dog Bites
The majority of serious dog bites go well beyond a simple scratch or wound on the surface of the skin requiring basic first aid. Typically, dogs attack the face, neck, shoulders, arms and legs of their victims who tend to be mostly children between the ages of five and nine years old. The extent of damage the dog causes often goes far beyond injury to the skin and its underlying tissue. Many victims lose their eyesight, receive puncture wounds in the head and neck and have serious trauma to their internal organs. The most catastrophic dog attacks leave the victim dead, usually at the scene of the incident.
The total number of filed insurance claims involving dog bites and dog attacks has remained basically flat over the last 10 years. However, the amount of payouts to victims who of filed claims has soared significantly, where one-third of all settlements and payouts in 2014 involved dog bites.
Limiting Liability Coverage
Many insurance companies have reviewed dog bite statistics and have begun limiting the amount of liability they cover in a typical homeowners or renter’s insurance policy. Usually, the policy’s personal liability section will limit coverage from $100,000-$500,000. This means if the claim exceeds the limits of the policy, the dog owner or property owner will be personally responsible to pay all damages, awards or settlements above this amount that often includes all legal expenses.
Because of that, many homeowners and pet owners are seeing the advantage of purchasing umbrella rider coverage that extends personal liability coverage up to $1 million or more. This is important because juries hearing dog bite cases tend to favor the plaintiff over the defendant, believing that the pet owner should have known better than to keep a dangerous pet or disregard the safety of others.
Dog Owner Liability For Damages Inflicted By Their Animal
A personal injury attorney working on behalf of the victim will develop a case based on three different theories of law that include:
- A Dog Bite Statute – The dog owner, or their insurance provider, might be automatically liable for all injuries and damages caused by the dog if it was not provoked. See our legal section here.
- The One Bite Rule – If the animal displayed vicious aggressive behavior and bit someone or another animal in the past, the dog’s owner could be held legally liable to the victim for financial compensation.
- Negligence Laws – Not properly controlling, containing or maintaining the dog that bit or attacked a human or other animal could be determined an act of negligence and used against the pet owner in civil litigation.
Seeking Financial Compensation For Dog Bite Injuries
The dog bite personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers (888-424-5757) specialize in liability cases involving dog attacks. Our legal team can file a claim or lawsuit for compensation based on negligence. The settlement amount received by clients we represent are based on various factors including:
- The severity of injuries the victim suffers
- Whether the injuries are permanent or temporary
- The level of suffering and pain
- Lost wages and the inability to work in the future
- Punitive damages(in some cases) when the pet owner shows reckless disregard to the safety and health of others.
If you, or your loved one, have been attacked by a dog and suffer from injuries or damages you are likely entitled to receive financial recompense for your loss. However, it serves your best interest to make contact with a reputable personal injury attorney as quickly as possible. This way your lawyer can gather more evidence quickly to build a case for compensation against the owner of the dangerous dog and take legal action to ensure the vicious animal cannot hurt anyone else in the future.