Dog bites can cause serious injuries. In addition to soft tissue damage, nerve damage, and permanent scarring, dog attacks can present risks for infections, diseases, and post-traumatic stress as well.
The costs of recovering from – and living with – the effects of a dog bite can be substantial. As a result, for individuals who have been bitten, seeking financial compensation is an important part of the recovery process. But, since many dog attacks involve pets belonging to neighbors, friends, and family members, attack victims often want to know: “Who pays for a dog bite?”
Dog Bite Cases Often Involve Insurance Claims
In most cases, recovering financial compensation for a dog bite involves filing an insurance claim. Homeowners insurance and renters insurance policies both typically cover dog bite injury claims. In fact, many people who have dogs buy enhanced coverage specifically to ensure that any claims will be covered – including claims filed by their friends and loved ones.
This means that, if you need to seek compensation for a dog bite, you do not need to worry about your neighbor, friend, or family member paying out of pocket (if he or she has insurance). Filing an insurance claim will not get your loved one into trouble. While filing a claim may result in a slight premium increase, (i) the increase will be far less than the costs of your injuries and (ii) your friend or loved one will almost certainly be happy to pay so that you can get the treatment you need and take care of your other injury-related costs.
What if the dog’s owner doesn’t have insurance? In this scenario, you may need to file a claim against the dog’s owner directly. This may mean that he or she will need to pay out of pocket.
Even if this is the case, you still need to seriously consider filing a personal injury claim. You will want to talk with a lawyer to find out if you have any other options for seeking compensation as well.
When Can Someone Other Than the Dog’s Owner Be Held Liable?
In terms of other options for seeking compensation, there are a few potential scenarios. For example, in some cases, landlords in New York can be held liable for dog bite injuries. You may be able to seek compensation from the dog owner’s landlord if (i) the landlord knew of the dog’s presence on the property and (ii) the landlord knew that the dog had a dangerous propensity for attacking.
Now, let’s suppose the dog broke through a fence or an electric fence malfunctioned. The dog’s owner did everything right, but his or her dog still got loose. In this scenario, the fence company could be liable for your injuries. Likewise, if the dog’s owner hired a trainer and the trainer misrepresented (either intentionally or unintentionally) that the dog was no longer a risk, then you could potentially have a claim against the trainer as well.
Another possible scenario is that you were attacked by a dog while it was in the custody of someone other than its owner. For example, maybe you were bitten by someone else’s dog while picking your dog up from a business such as a kennel, boarding facility, or daycare service. If the business failed to take appropriate steps to prevent an attack by a dangerous dog, then the business (or, more likely, its insurance company) could be liable for your losses.
How Do You Seek Payment for a Dog Bite?
Given that recovering compensation for a dog bite typically involves filing an insurance claim, how do you go about seeking payment? There are a few important steps you should take after a dog bite, one of the most important of which is obtaining medical treatment for your (or your child’s) injuries.
With regard to determining whether insurance coverage is available, you can ask your neighbor, friend, or family member for his or her insurance information (similar to how you would exchange auto insurance information after an accident). Or, if you are uncomfortable doing so, you can hire an attorney to determine the available insurance coverage for your injuries.
In any case, you will want to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Initiating your claim promptly will increase the likelihood that you will be fairly compensated for your losses.
Contact a Dog Bite Lawyer Today
The attorneys at O’Connor & Partners, PLLC have more than 150 years of combined experience representing clients in dog bite claims and other injury cases. We are dedicated to helping injury victims and their families pursue full compensation for their losses.
For a free consultation, please call O’Connor & Partners, PLLC at (845) 303-8777 today. Our dog bite lawyers serve clients in Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, and other areas of New York.