Who is financially responsible for dog bites?

A dog in California could bite someone without provocation, leading to severe injuries. The injured party might then seek compensation from the dog’s owner. If the owner was negligent in some way, then the victim could potentially file an insurance claim.

Homeowners insurance and dog bites

A dog owner’s homeowners insurance policy, or possibly a renter’s insurance policy, may provide coverage for dog bites. If the owner was negligent somehow, then the policy could cover damages up to the policy’s limits. However, dog bite coverage caps might be far lower than for personal liability. A policy with $500,000 in personal liability may cap dog bites at $10,000. Of course, policies vary, and the coverage limits would not likely become known until someone files a claim.

Exclusions might appear in the homeowner policy, and these exclusions could bar specific breeds from coverage. Pit bulls and Dobermans, for example, have a reputation for causing more severe injuries, so the policy might state that it won’t pay for any damages caused by the breeds. Additionally, the policy may note that it won’t cover any pet with a previous biting history. Even if the pet is a docile one, the insurance company is not responsible for paying when the pet has an established record of biting.

The owner’s responsibility

Regardless of the policy’s limits, if the owner is responsible for the dog’s behavior, suing the owner above the policy limits might be possible. Negligence factors into any judgments surrounding dog bite injuries. Did the owner allow a dangerous dog to wander off its leash? Was a gate left open? Such things may contribute to negligence.

That said, a person who provoked a dog might be responsible for the dog’s reaction. In some instances, both the owner and victim may share responsibility for an incident.

An attorney may explain negligence to someone who has been a victim of an aggressive dog. The attorney might also handle insurance claim filings for their client.