If you own a dog, maintaining pet liability insurance is not just luxury coverage, but a necessity. This is because injuries caused by dog bites and attacks cost insurance companies more than $500 million every year by settling thousands of liability and medical claims. Nearly all renter’s insurance and homeowner’s insurance policies exclude or severely limit coverage for any injury caused by a dog, which results in exorbitant expenses that need to be absorbed by the pet’s owner. Additionally, property management companies and landlords are often reluctant to lease their properties to individuals that have certain breeds of dogs.
Nearly half of the households in the United States have at least one dog. For insurance carriers, these millions of pets represent potential risk of claims filed against victims of dog attacks and dog bites. Into 2013, insurance carriers paid nearly $500 million out to victims of dog bites who file the liability claim against homeowner’s insurance policies. This is the result of the 4.5 million children and adults who are bitten by dogs each year, where nearly 900,000 of those victims require medical attention.
Claims for Compensation Related to Dog Bites
Victims who have been bitten by dogs or their surviving family members can file a claim for recovery through the pet owner’s homeowner’s insurance coverage or an umbrella (rider) policy specifically covering dog bites. Filing a claim requires the victim to provide evidence of the attack and medical documentation showing their level of injury. In addition, the victim must send a demand letter for payment indicating an amount of financial compensation that is reasonable to cover the legal damages, injuries and losses they endure.
The case for compensation needs to be based on legal theory showing why the pet owner or others are at fault for the attack are liable for compensation to the victim. The victim, or their attorney, will need to present evidence that could include specific information concerning the dog, the victim, any witness account, medical-associated expenses, loss of wages, disabilities, scarring, and other evidence relevant to the case that could include pictures of scars and wounds endured by the victims.
A part of building the case requires attorneys to hire expert medical professionals who can calculate the cost of future medical treatments and present evidence to show the victim’s long term prognosis. This often includes future medical costs, the expense of bite-associated disabilities and whether the scars caused by the dog are temporary or permanent.Additionally, eyewitness accounts are crucial to the successful outcomeof a victim’s claim for compensation.
Large Settlements and Jury Awards Against Dog Owners
Reputable personal injury attorneys who specialize in dog bite injury cases will negotiate an adequate amount of compensation in an out-of-court settlement or present the case in front of the judge and jury. The lawyer’s opinion of the true worth of the claim for compensation is often based on proven methods for evaluating the case on its merits/evidence along with the dollar value of associated medical expenses, emotional harm and damage caused to the victims and family members.
Typically, personal injury attorneys representing the victim will often base their evaluation on various factors that include:
- Medical expenses that are covered under an insurance policy medical payment provision.
- Property damage that could include broken glasses, torn clothing or other loss that is covered by the homeowner’s insurance policy property damage provision.
- Intangible losses including pain and suffering or other losses including bystander claims that are covered under the policy’s liability provision.
The attorney working on behalf of the victim must ensure their client receives adequate recompense by negotiating an acceptable amount with the insurance company’s claims adjuster. If an agreement cannot be negotiated, the lawyer must prepare the case to present in front of a judge and jury in a lawsuit trial.
An experienced personal injury attorney can build a case for a successful outcome by presenting expert testimony, eyewitness accounts and evidence of the dog attack. Because jurors tend to provide victims high amounts in trial awards, it is essential for every responsible pet owner to secure their family’s future against liability in the event that their dog bites a human or other pet.