Insurance can be a complicated issue especially dog bite insurance. What type of insurance covers a dog bite? Typically these cases rely on homeowner’s insurance. That means a dog owner’s insurance can cover the attack, but it isn’t always that simple.
If the dog owner is not a homeowner than the other source of insurance would be through renter’s insurance. However, unlike cars where every driver on the road needs to carry liability automobile insurance, renters of dwellings are not required to have renter’s insurance.
When is the homeowner liable when he is not the dog owner?
There is a different type of liability for a homeowner who does not own the biting dog than for a dog owner. A dog owner is strictly liable for a dog bite when all of the elements of the statute are met. To prove liability on just a homeowner, you need to prove negligence.
There are two elements that needed:
- The homeowner needs to actually know the dog’s propensity to bite. In other words, the homeowner must have information that the dog has bitten in the past.
Basically, the law of a homeowner is that of former law for dog owners. The homeowner must have information that the dog has bitten in the past. Therefore, the first bite rule does not count for a homeowner that does not own the dog.
- The homeowner must also have had the ability to prevent the dog attack. The big issue for this element is time. If there was a long enough time for the homeowner to know about the dog biting history than the homeowner could have had the dog removed from the premises or put defenses and controls in to not allow the dog to bite.
Does the Owner Have Dog Bite Insurance?
There are two basic ways of determining whether a dog’s owner has homeowner insurance. Unlike a traffic collision report where an officer will gather and write down the auto information of the vehicles involved in a car accident, an animal control report does not list whether there is insurance or not. The animal control report will usually give the dog owner’s home address.
With this information, the first way to get whether there is insurance is to mail out a request to the dog owner asking for any insurance policy that was in effect at the time of the incident. That is why calling 911 is the first step after dog attacks so law enforcement may get the dog owner’s information.
Many times these request letters to the dog owner go nowhere. These letters often go without a response and the only recourse of action to determine insurance is through legal action. Filing a lawsuit is next most common way of finding out whether there is insurance. After filing and serving a lawsuit, you will find out if there is insurance by asking that question in an interrogatory or seeing if the dog owner will have legal representation in the case. Usually legal representation means that there is insurance and the insurance is covering the attorney.
What happens if there is no insurance?
If there is no insurance, usually there are usually two options. You can go after the dog owner personally or get a default judgment. You can get compensation even if there is no insurance, however you may not get the true value of the case. This is because a person may not have the monetary funds to pay out for the injuries in the case.
The second option is getting a default judgment. A default judgment occurs when a lawsuit is filed and the defendant does not respond. Collecting from a default judgment can be difficult, so you talking to a reputable dog bite attorney is crucial.