How to Handle Dog Bite Injuries

As I have become more involved in personal injury law, I have encountered many different types of injury claims. As I addressed in earlier articles, I predominantly deal with workplace injuries and motor vehicle accidents. However, another form a personal injury I deal with is dog bite incidents. As a society, and me personally, we love dogs. However, a serious dog bite can have a lasting impact on the injured. In order to properly understand your rights if you become injured by a dog, this article will provide a brief overview.

The legal standard in order to pursue a claim for a dog bite is a two prong test. The first is that the injured must be an invitee, or had some right to be where they were when they were bit by the dog. A common scenario occurs when the person bit was a guest at a friend or relatives house. Another common scenario is a worker making a service call, such as a plumber or painter who was contracted by the homeowner to perform a task and is bit by the homeowner’s dog. The second prong is that the injured must not have provoked the dog that made it bite. As such, the injured will not be entitled to any recovery if they teased or riled up the dog that made it bite or attack. However, a person injured can recover whether the dog’s acts were intentional or not. This standard deals with dog bites as well as dog attacks, but it’s important to understand that this standard only applies to dog and is not applicable for other domesticated animals. If the injured can satisfy this two-pronged test, than by law, they are entitled to pursue a claim against the dog owner.

When a dog bite incident occurs, typically those that file claims are those that are bit by another person’s dog. While uncommon, I will field calls about someone who is injured by their own dog. It’s important to understand that when a dog bite occurs, the injured person must file a claim against the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy. As such, make sure to get the dog owner’s insurance information.  It’s also important to review the policy to make sure the dog that bit the injured was not excluded from insurance coverage. Most homeowner’s policies will include what’s called a Medical Pay Coverage. A medical pay coverage is what the injured party can use out of the homeowner’s policy to pay for medical bills stemming from the dog bite. Typically these medical pay coverages have limits so it is important to understand what that limit is. In the end, a person injured by a dog bite or attack can pursue a claim against the owner’s insurance not only for medical treatment (past and future), wage loss, and replacement services, but also pain and suffering.

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