Dog attacks are a serious issue and shouldn’t be taken lightly. As a dog owner, it is important to hire a qualified attorney knowledgeable in dog bite law.
Despite the fact that dogs are known as man’s best friend, it cannot be denied that some of them can very aggressive, bite strangers, or even close friends or family members at times. Dog bites cases are not that easy tackle, as they’re not dealt with simply by bringing the victim to the doctor to have a vaccine. That’s because there are various laws and liability associated when a dog bites a person.
According to medical reports, about five million Americans are bitten by dogs yearly, and dog attacks are common topics of dispute in insurance companies throughout the country. The primary reason for disputes due to the liability and compensation provided by insurance companies. Dog bite claims in insurance companies policies range from insurance providers of employers, landlords, homeowners, and homeowner associations.
However, each state has different liability laws for dog owners in cases of dog bites. In fact, dog bite law is often a combination of state statutory law, case law, city and county, and common law. These laws, however, are classified by experts into two general categories: The “First Bite Rule” and the “Strict Liability Rule”.
The Two Categories of Dog Bite Law:
First Bite Rule:
The one bite rule is also known as the “one bite rule, ” or the “first bite free” rule. Under the said rule, dog owners are not held liable for the injury and mishap caused by his dog, so long as they aren’t negligent to their duties in controlling the dog. In this scenario, for example, dog owners do not violate protective dog laws because they don’t permit their dog to run loose in public areas without a leash.
The rule doesn’t apply, however, if the owner was aware or should have been aware of their dog’s propensity to be dangerous, which could be established if:
- The dog had a tendency to snap in front of people.
- The owner told others that the dog is a guard dog.
- The owner cautioned others that the dog bites.
- The dog often wears a muzzle.
Liability under this case, or in subsequent bites, is then generally determined under strict liability rule.
Strict Liability Rule:
Under this rule, dog owners are held liable and responsible for the injuries caused by their dog, regardless of whether it’s the first bite since they took possession of the dog. The basic premise of this rule is that the owner legally owns his dog, therefore they are legally responsible for the injury.
Depending on the jurisdiction, however, some protections can be extended to dog owners, even in the cases when the strict liability rule applies. For example, dog owners may not be held liable for injuries caused by their dog’s bite if:
- The dog bite victim was a trespasser.
- The dog bite victim is a veterinarian treating the dog.
- The dog bite victim provoked the dog.
- The dog bite victim ignored warnings by the owner not to approach the dog.
- The dog bit someone during a military operation or while helping the police.
Even though states have the same strict liability rule, its applicability is varied and different in scope. There are cases where the rule is applicable to the dog keeper only and different for their owners, while other rules apply to the injuries caused by the dog bite. In some states, the strict liability rule provides full compensation for the victims.
But even in states that have the strict liability rule in the common, its applicability varies in scope. Some states apply the rule to the dog’s keepers as well as their owners if they aren’t the same person. Some others apply it to injuries caused by the dog by means other than biting. Some provide for full compensation, while others only for medical bills and other economic losses. In some states, the rule may apply only during daytime, if no warnings were posted, or if the victim provoked the dog at the time they were bitten and not previously.
Since stray accidents and incidents like dogs attacking bystanders, strangers and even its owner’s family cannot be foreseen or avoided entirely, dog liability insurance is a very good idea to combat the situation. Though this insurance may seem a useless expense at the outset, it really comes handy during an unfortunate incident like a dog attack.
What Is Dog Liability Insurance?
As the name suggests, Dog Insurance covers the financial costs of damages that might occur due to a dog attack. A complete insurance policy covers the financial risks of any damage, injury or even death that is caused by the dog or a dog attack. The most common claim is dog bites.
Who Should Buy Dog Liability Insurance?
Every dog owner should opt for Dog Liability Policy, and it is very important for owners of bigger and traditionally more aggressive dogs, like the Rottweiler, or the Doberman or the Pitt Bull. However, it cannot be said that smaller dogs are less prone to violent attacks or that they cause less damage – but a larger dog has the potential to cause more damage because of their bulk and strength.
Which Is the Best Dog Liability Insurance for You?
Like all types of insurance, Dog Liability Insurance also has several aspects that you should take into consideration – like what is the premium that you would be paying, what are the damages covered and the extent of damages that are covered. Therefore, you would need to research your requirements and the insurance products that might cater for them.
The best way to research for Dog Liability Insurance plans is to look for information about them on the Internet. Most major insurance programs will have their own websites, which will provide you with all the information that you might require about the insurance plan.
Also, you might want to check with your veterinarian for any information about dog liability insurance and the various aspects related to the insurance policy. Most medical institutions have information about insurance policies.
Dog Bites Are a Serious Issue and Should Never Be Taken Lightly!
Whether it’s injuries from the actual bite or other losses, the bite victim has a right to recover damages. As a dog owner, it is important to hire a qualified attorney who is knowledgeable in dog bite laws because they vary from state to state.