What role does homeowner’s insurance play in dog bite injury claims?

Navigating the financial aftermath of a dog bite is more than just adding up medical bills. It involves finding coverage for the claim. In most dog bite cases, that compensation will come from a homeowners’ policy. 

A primary source of coverage

A homeowner’s insurance policy serves as a protective barrier for them against unforeseen liabilities – including injuries caused by household pets. Most homeowner’s policies include liability coverage, which comes into play when a dog causes harm to a person, whether on the property or elsewhere. Depending on the specifics of the policy, it can cover medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the bite.

However, it’s not always straightforward. Some insurance policies may exclude certain breeds known for their aggressive nature, or there might be coverage limits that don’t adequately cover the injured person’s expenses. This is where a personal injury lawyer’s experience becomes invaluable.

Liability and Exclusions

Every homeowner’s insurance policy is a contract and, within that agreement, certain conditions and exclusions apply. Often, if a dog has a history of biting or belongs to a breed stereotypically labeled as “dangerous” or “aggressive,” there may be exclusions that prevent any payouts related to injuries caused by the dog. Injured persons should consult with a personal injury lawyer who can review the insurance policy and determine the potential for a claim.

Seeking Compensation Beyond Homeowner’s Insurance

In situations where a homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover or fully compensate for a dog bite injury, injured persons might have alternative routes to compensation. These can include:

  • Umbrella Policies: Some dog owners might have additional coverage beyond their standard policy, known as umbrella insurance. This can provide a more significant financial safety net for injured persons.
  • Renter’s Insurance: If the dog owner is a tenant, their renter’s insurance might cover dog bite liabilities.
  • Landlord Liability: In certain cases, if a landlord was aware of a tenant’s potentially dangerous dog and did nothing, they might bear some responsibility.

Exploring these avenues requires keen legal expertise, ensuring that every potential source of compensation is pursued.

What Should Homeowners Do?

Dog ownership brings immense joy and companionship, but it also comes with responsibilities. To ensure both the safety of their dogs and the community at large, homeowners should:

  • Understand Local Laws: Familiarize yourself with local ordinances and regulations about leash laws, fencing, and other dog-related requirements. 
  • Proper Training: Dogs should undergo basic obedience training. Well-trained dogs are less likely to react aggressively or unpredictably.
  • Safety Measures: Always use leashes in public spaces, secure gates and fences, and use warning signs if your dog is protective or territorial.
  • Insurance Review: Regularly review your homeowner’s insurance policy to understand what’s covered and what’s not. Consider purchasing additional coverage, if needed.
  • Act Quickly After an Incident: Document everything if your dog is involved in an incident. Get witness accounts, take photographs, and seek professional advice. Promptly report the incident to your insurance company.

Being proactive, well-informed, and compassionate can go a long way in ensuring that both dogs and neighbors coexist harmoniously. Remember, early intervention can be critical in such cases. Reach out today, and let us help guide you through the complexities of your dog bite injury claim.


Emery Wang

Emery Wang

Emery Wang has been a lawyer in Oregon since 2009. While attending Lewis & Clark law school, Emery worked as a Multnomah County District Attorney, and since then has been a full time personal injury lawyer.

Vames, Wang & Sosa Injury Lawyers focus on vehicle crashes, personal injury, and first-party car accident insurance claims. They have offices located in Gresham and Hillsboro.

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