los angeles dog bite lawyer

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover a Dog Bite in California?

Recovering Compensation for Medical Bills, Lost Wages, and Pain and Suffering After a Dog Bite Case in California

One of the most traumatic types of personal injuries is a dog bite or animal attack. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports that more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States, resulting in over 800,000 instances of medical treatment (approximately 1 in 5 dog bites).  Further, the AVMA reports that children are the most common victims of dog bites and animal attacks. 

What is more startling is that, during the pandemic caused by the coronavirus known as COVID-19, there have been three-times as many dog bites reported than in previous years, according to the Journal of Pediatrics.  Our Los Angeles dog bite lawyers know this is a serious issue for victims and families, leaving many to wonder how to pay the medical bills and lost wages after an attack.

This is why the Broadway Law Firm has dedicated their practice area to personal injury cases, including dog bite and animal attack cases in Los Angeles and throughout California.  We know how devastating a dog bite can be, particularly the physical and emotional trauma that these attacks cause for all individuals—especially children.  We have a proven track record of success representing victims in California in dog bite and animal attacks, including cases including vicious and catastrophic injuries.  If you or a loved one were seriously injured, or if a loved one was wrongfully killed, in an animal attack, ask our experienced Los Angeles dog bite lawyers for help by dialing 213.344.0067.

Liability in a Dog Bite Case

There are three main types of dog bite laws in the United States.  The first are vicious propensity or prior knowledge states, where a victim must prove a dog had vicious propensities or a proclivity to cause harm that the owner knew or should have known about before the attack.  This could be a prior bite or attack, or that the dog had exhibited aggressive behavior before.  

The second is strict liability, where a dog’s owner is automatically liable for the dog’s attack when it happens—whether or not the dog owner knew or should have known about the dog’s propensity to bite.  The third type is a hybrid approach between the two, often injecting some form of negligence (failure to act reasonably).

California Dog Bite Law: Strict Liability 

California follows the strict liability set of laws.  This means that a victim will be able to recover compensation against a dog owner or handler whether or not the dog owner knew or should have know about the dog’s proclivity to bite.  The only elements that a victim must establish is that:

  1. the victim was bitten or attacked by the dog in a manner which caused injury (i.e., could be knocked over), and
  2. the victim was in a public place or lawfully in a private place when the victim was bitten (i.e., invited over, first-responder, mail carrier, etc.).

Generally, if these elements are met it will be hard for a defendant to fight this type of case.  However, there are exceptions that may apply in some instances.  Some possible exceptions include if a dog was provoked, defending the owner, or the victim was a veterinarian or vet assistant. 

Damages in a Dog Bite Case

Damages in a dog bite case are any losses as a result of the attack.  This includes both losses for reimbursements like medical bills, lost wages, and lost future earnings if unable to work in the same job.  But it can also include damages for emotional harm, such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium with a spouse, and anxiety or depression from a dog bite.

By far, the most common and most extensive form of damages are due to the physical injuries.  Some of the most common types of injuries in a dog bite case include the following:

  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Nerve injuries and damage
  • Broken bones
  • Infections at the bite wound
  • Torn muscles or tendons, ligaments, or other structures
  • Blindness or loss of vision
  • Amputation or loss of a limb
  • Back injuries or neck injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Wrongful death, and
  • Other types of physical harm or emotional harm caused by a dog bite in California.

Who Pays for a Dog Bite in California?

Generally, in a dog bite case the defendant’s homeowners insurance policy will cover it.  This means that the homeowners insurance will pay for medical bills and lost wages, as well as pain and suffering.  Homeowners insurance will also generally cover a dog bite if the attack occurred outside of the owner’s property, such as on a walk.  

There are exceptions, however.  A homeowners insurance company may not cover a dog bite if:

  • The owner did not opt in for dog bite coverage
  • The owner did not tell the homeowners insurance company of the dog
  • The homeowners insurance denied coverage for a dangerous breed
  • The owner lied about the dog’s prior bites or aggressive behavior, lied about the breed, or otherwise misrepresented to the homeowners insurance company the nature of the dog
  • The homeowner did not have homeowners insurance coverage (i.e., owned house free and clear or let insurance lapse)
  • The owner failed to timely report the dog bite to the insurance carrier, or
  • Other possible reasons for an insurance company to deny coverage.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a dog bite or animal attack and the homeowners insurance company is denying coverage, some other options you may have are the following:

  • Worker’s compensation if you were injured while a work or within the scope of employment
  • Recovering a judgment against a defendant who may be able to afford it
  • Recovering a judgment and garnishing wages or placing liens on certain bank accounts or assets, or
  • Other options that an experienced Los Angeles dog bite lawyer can review for you.

Bitten by a Dog in California?  We Can Help

Dog bites are serious.  Victims who are injured in a dog bite could recover compensation for their damages if a homeowners insurance company pays out a claim like it should.  Oftentimes an insurance company will resit paying claims, and even blame a victim for his or her injuries from a dog bite.  Do not let this happen to you.

Call the Broadway Law Firm in Los Angeles, California to learn how we can help protect your rights to compensation after a dog bite or animal attack.  We know how to prove liability and fight back against a homeowners insurance company that will not play fair.  If the defendants failed to carry insurance, or if the homeowners insurance company denied coverage, we can still review your options and we will aggressively pursue your rights in court—including compelling the insurance coverage to pay on your claim in a declaratory judgment case.

Learn more how can help you during a FREE call by dialing 888-738-9299 to schedule your FREE appointment or send us a private and confidential message through our easy-to-use “contact us” box available here.

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