People injured by an animal bite often do not want to pursue legal action against the animal’s owner. This is particularly true if the owner is a neighbor, for fear of placing the owner in economic hardship. However, an animal bite injury is often covered by insurance, and the animal owner won’t pay anything. It is important to understand who may be liable for animal bites when considering a claim.
An animal owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy may cover injuries caused by household pets that occur on the owner’s property. Insurance companies will typically only cover the first incident in which an animal causes injury. There are also certain insurance companies that refuse to cover specific breeds of dogs, such as Pit Bulls or Rottweilers. Some policies offer reduced coverage for incidents that occur away from the homeowner’s property. They may be very specific covering incidents outside the property, such as explicitly excluding injuries connected to vehicles. A dog bite while walking at the local park could be covered by insurance, but if the same dog bit someone through the window of a car, that might not be covered.
A dog bite that occurs in or from a car, might be covered by automobile insurance. Often, both automobile insurance and homeowner’s insurance policies will provide animal bite coverage. In this case, both insurance companies will have to resolve who is responsible for covering the injury. In most cases, an agreement can be reached without further burdening the injured person.
There are specialty insurance companies that provide insurance for pet owners. As noted above, many insurance companies refuse to cover animal bites after one incident. As a result, the owner of a “repeat offender” pet often has no choice but to look for coverage from an insurance company that specializes in animal coverage.
Even if an animal owner does not have appropriate insurance, you still have recourse. You are entitled to bring a legal claim against the owner to recover your damages. Neighbors especially may normally feel reluctant to bring such a claim. Keep in mind that you will bear any losses alone for subsequent medical bills or lost income if you fail to act. If you have been bitten and injured by a pet animal, you may want to explore your legal options. A personal injury attorney can help you determine who is at fault and how you can recover your losses.