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Insurance Coverage for Dog Bite Claims

dog-bite-homeowners-insurnace-claim-chicago-illinois When aggressive dogs bite adults or pets, your homeowners' insurance company may decide not to renew your policy or charge you more money.

But, unfortunately, there is no way of knowing how any individual company will react until after the dog's bitten somebody who now is seeking financial compensation to pay for their damages.

Are you the victim of a severe dog attack? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for dog accident victims harmed by another's negligence.

Call a Chicago dog bite lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

Dog Bites: A Serious and Expensive Problem

Every year, over 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs and of those who seek medical attention, half require hospitalization. Though many pet owners think their homeowner's insurance will cover the damages incurred during a dog bite incident, this is not always the case.

The best way to know what your policy does and does not cover is to read your homeowners' insurance policy carefully before you need it most!

By getting Dog Bite Insurance, you'll know that even if your dog is determined to have attacked someone else, you won't lose everything in case of a lawsuit or go bankrupt, paying out-of-pocket costs.

This type of insurance covers any injury caused by your dog regardless of its breed or history with previous attacks. In addition, you'll never have to worry about being sued again by maintaining a homeowners' policy!

Dog Bite Statistics

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), there were ten fatal dog attacks in 2010. Here are some additional statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • In 2018, about 31% of fatal dog attack victims were less than ten years old
  • In 2018, 39% of all bite injuries treated in emergency rooms involved children
  • In 2019-2020, dogs killed 85 U.S. citizens, including 14 children under age 10
  • In 2020, dogs attacked at least 31 law enforcement officers in the United States

Dog Bite Liability Laws

All 50 states have dog bite laws that can be used to hold all parties responsible for their pet's behavior accountable. These "strict liability" rules can include canine owners, landlords, and even animal shelters that adopt dangerous dogs.

Dog Bite Laws in Your State

  • Alabama: Liability for damages caused by a dog bite can be placed on any person who "owns or harbors the dog" if it is proven that they knew their pet was vicious beforehand.
  • Alaska: Canine owners are strictly liable if their dog bites a person who was not trespassing and, in a location, where they had the right.
  • Arizona: If a dog owner knows that their animal is dangerous and bites someone, they will be required to compensate the injured party for all damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and mental anguish.
  • Arkansas: If a person who suffers dog bites files a lawsuit against the animal's owners, the owner must pay all medical bills as well as an extra penalty of $100 or 50% of the total judgment if it goes to court.
  • California: All dogs that have bitten someone in the past are required to be tagged with warning labels. If the animal inflicts serious wounds on another, its owner will be fully financially liable for all medical costs and damages.
  • Colorado: A dog's owner can be held accountable if they knew that their canine was considered aggressive or had bitten another party before the attack occurred. Legal penalties may include compensation for the victim's out-of-pocket expenses as well as a fine of up to $100 per day until the pet is vaccinated against rabies.
  • Delaware: Canine owners are responsible for any personal injury brought about by a bite, whether it has been provoked beforehand. They must also compensate victims who have been knocked unconscious from their injuries and those who require hospitalization.
  • District of Columbia: If a dog attacks another individual while in public space, the owner will be liable for medical costs and emotional restitution.
  • Florida: Canine owners must pay any court fees that result from an injury their pet causes to another party, even if it hasn't been provoked beforehand. They can also face criminal charges depending on how severe the victim's injuries are.
  • Georgia: If a dog bites someone without provocation, its owners will be held financially responsible for all damages and injuries sustained by the attack victim under strict liability laws.
  • Hawaii: If a canine is deemed dangerous or potentially dangerous, then its owner has to keep it confined in an enclosed area at all times. If this rule is violated and the dog bites another person, they will be held accountable for any resulting injury costs.
  • Idaho: Dog owners are liable for damages caused by their pet to another person, whether it has bitten them in the past. They can also be guilty of a misdemeanor if their dog attacks a law enforcement agent, postal worker, television news reporter, or minor child at least five years old.
  • Illinois: If a pet owner's canine injures someone while off its leash and away from public spaces, they will have to pay restitution for both medical expenses related to the bite as well as an extra penalty fee of $500 for "pain and suffering."
  • Indiana: Dog owners must compensate victims who sustain injuries due to a bite, whether provoked beforehand.
  • Iowa: Vicious dogs must be confined in a way that minimizes the risk that they will inflict injuries to other individuals. If an attack occurs, dog owners must cover medical expenses, and criminal penalties can be imposed if there is proof that they knew their canine was dangerous ahead of time.
  • Kansas: Canine owners who know their animal is prone to biting others but don't act may face a misdemeanor offense in addition to a fine of up to $2,500.
  • Kentucky: Canine owners would have to pay restitution for all damages caused by their pet's biting incident, even if it wasn't provoked beforehand. The same penalty applies whether the owner knew in advance that their dog was violent or could pose a danger to another person.
  • Louisiana: Dog owners are fully responsible for any injuries their canine may cause to another person whether or not the pet has bitten someone before. It also applies to bites that occur on public or non-public property.
  • Maine: If a dog is ruled dangerous by local law officials, its owner must muzzle it outside their home and carry liability insurance with at least $50,000 worth of coverage if they want to keep it.
  • Maryland: Any dog that attacks a human being can be euthanized without going through court proceedings first. Victims will receive restitution from its owner for all medical costs related to the attack and other expenses resulting from the injury.
  • Massachusetts: Any dog owner who knows their canine tends to bite others without warning must restrain it from doing so with a muzzle or other safety gear when in public areas. If their pet bites another individual, they will be held financially responsible for medical costs and court fees.
  • Michigan: No local law can supersede state regulations that hold all dog owners accountable for their pet's actions whether or not they were provoked to do so beforehand. Victims can receive restitution for any resulting injuries by filing a civil claim against them, including reimbursement for medical costs and legal assistance if needed. They also must pay an extra penalty fee of $1,000 per incident and pass a canine safety course.
  • Minnesota: Dog owners who know ahead of time that their pet is prone to violence but don't take steps to prevent it from happening can face misdemeanor charges and pay for the victim's medical expenses if they cause an injury.
  • Mississippi: If a dog owner knows beforehand that their pet has a propensity for biting, then they are legally required to cover any injuries it may cause within 24 hours of its attack.
  • Missouri: The owner of any canine that bites another individual must cover the costs of all resulting medical expenses no matter how severe or mild the injury was afterward. If it happens on public property, they will also have to pay a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Montana: Dog owners are held fully liable for any injuries their canine causes another person, including bites inflicted outside their property, even if provoked beforehand.
  • Nebraska: Any canine that performs an unprovoked attack while out in public must be put down immediately by law enforcement or animal control personnel. At home, its handler is required to keep them restrained with a leash and muzzle when not indoors.
  • Nevada: Dog owners are required to keep their pet on a six-foot leash at all times when in public areas or risk paying any resulting fines or fees suffered by another individual that it attacks.
  • New Hampshire: Any owner whose canine causes an injury must cover the full cost of medical treatment related to it in addition to paying $1,000 in penalties per incident. This fee includes court costs and other fees that occur if necessary filing an official police report afterward is also required by law.
  • New Jersey: Any owner's canine attacks another individual must pay for all resulting medical expenses up to $250,000 regardless of the severity of injuries. These payments only cover injuries that occur on public property and not private areas where the attack occurred beforehand, including personal residences.
  • New York: Any canine that bites another person must be quarantined for ten days to ensure that it has no signs of rabies or other illnesses in this period. If a dog owner violates any quarantine, they will receive a fine in the range of $250 to $1,000 per incident.
  • North Dakota: Dog owners are required to keep their canine on a leash when it is out in public and have it vaccinated against rabies with additional insurance if necessary. In addition, they also must comply with all local ordinances on the best way to handle their pet while it's outside or risk having to pay up to $5,000 per incident that occurs.
  • Ohio: Any canine that attacks a person must be quarantined for ten days at a local animal shelter under state law. Else, the owner will receive a fine of $100 per day keeping the dog home instead of while they are out on an excursion or vacation.
  • Oregon: Dog owners are responsible for covering all medical expenses related to their pet's attacks regardless of their worth. Victims can also sue the dog's owner to receive full restitution for all resulting costs while receiving legal representation.
  • Pennsylvania: Dog owners who already know that their pet is prone to violence must take preventative measures against it by keeping it always restrained with a leash when outdoors, along with having it vaccinated against rabies beforehand under state law.
  • Rhode Island: Any canine that attacks someone must be quarantined away from the public for ten days under state law, so communities are not exposed to any potential diseases or illnesses beforehand.
  • South Dakota: Any canine that bites a person must be quarantined for ten days at a local animal shelter to ensure that it does not have any diseases or illnesses beforehand under state law.
  • Texas: Any canine that attacks someone must be quarantined at home for ten after receiving treatment at an animal clinic or shelter under state law. If the owner violates this, they will receive a fine of up to $500 per incident and any potential fees, including litigation costs that affect both owners and victims.
  • Utah: Dog owners are responsible for covering all resulting medical expenses caused by their pet's violent actions regardless of their worth. According to state law, victims can also sue the dog's owner to receive full restitution for all resulting costs while receiving legal representation throughout the proceedings if necessary.
  • Vermont: Any canine that bites someone must be quarantined away from other people for ten days after treatment at an animal clinic or shelter so that communities are not exposed to any diseases or illnesses beforehand.
  • Virginia: Dog owners are required to keep their pet restrained with a leash at all times when it is outdoors. Those who do not comply with these regulations can be held liable for medical expenses upfront instead if their canine bites someone else or risks being sued for full restitution.
  • Washington: Any canine that attacks someone must be quarantined away from other people at an animal shelter after receiving treatment under state law so that communities are not exposed to any diseases or illnesses beforehand.
  • West Virginia: Dog owners are required to keep their canines restrained with a leash at all times when it is outdoors. Those who do not comply with these regulations can be held liable for medical expenses upfront instead if their canine bites someone else or risks being sued for full restitution.
  • Wisconsin: Any canine that attacks someone must be quarantined away from other people at an animal shelter after receiving treatment under state law so that communities are not exposed to any diseases or illnesses beforehand.

Specific Breeds Typically Excluded From Insurance Company Liability Coverage

Typically, a homeowner's or renters insurance policy will exclude certain dog breeds from the policy due to the breed's vicious behavior. An example of a restricted breed not covered by a homeowner's policy paid on an insurance claim might include:

  • Akita
  • Great Dane
  • Belgian Malinois
  • American Bulldog
  • Chow Chow
  • Pit Bulls
  • Staffordshire Terriers
  • Rottweiler
  • Cocker spaniel
  • Mastiff
  • Presa Canario
  • Doberman pinschers
  • Beauceron
  • Keeshond
  • German Shepherd
  • Alaskan Malamutes
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback will
  • Huskie
  • Dogue de Bordeaux
  • Wolf Hybrid

Mastiffs are the only dog breed out of all listed breed restrictions typically not excluded under homeowners' coverage liability. Therefore, an insurance agent can recommend one of two types of liability insurance for dogs typically offered depending on the type of dog owned by an individual.

Laws Applicable to Dog Bite FAQs

Our personal injury law firm understands many families have unanswered questions about dealing directly with an insurance company and what they will pay for a dog bite or attack. A dog injury attorney has answered some of those questions below.

Call our law office at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form for additional information.

Coverage From Insurance Companies? Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Dog Bites?

Dog bite insurance could include:

  • Personal Liability Insurance: Provides coverage for injuries that happen in or around an individual's home.
  • Bodily Injury and Property Damage (BI/PD) Liability: Pays for injuries and property damage caused by a dog when not at home or on its owner's property. It also protects owners against lawsuits filed by victims who want to receive full restitution for medical expenses and other costs.

Does an Umbrella Insurance Policy Work for Dog Bite?

Nearly every dog bite insurance policy can be bolstered through umbrella insurance coverage from the homeowner's insurance company. Umbrella insurance policies come into play when existing liability coverage is not enough to cover all medical expenses from a dog attack.

Injured victims can file dog bite claims against canine owners if they request full restitution for medical bills and other related costs under an umbrella policy that has no limits for this type of payment.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Dog Bites?

Unfortunately, while homeowners' insurance covers some dog bites, renters' insurance does not. In addition, renters' insurance coverage typically has liability limits to covering damage within or around a renter's unit, such as personal belongings and other structures under the home.

If a homeowner's insurance policy never covers dog bites based on the dog's breed, it might cover other dog-related injuries.

Are There Any Exceptions That Will Void Liability Coverage for Dog Bites?

Yes. Blame-shifting exemptions may cause insurance companies to deny a claim under a dog bite liability policy. For example, some policies exclude coverage on certain breeds or a particular dog due to:

  • Vicious behavior on the part of the dog before the date of being insured
  • The owner was not in physical control of their canine while it was outdoors, even if it was restrained with a leash or chain
  • The owner did not take reasonable steps to prevent their canine from attacking someone else, even if they tried to stop the attack afterward
  • The injured person provoked the dog on purpose, knew that it was dangerous beforehand, or did not read any warning signs before entering the premises where the animal lived
  • The renter knowingly left their door cracked open where their dog could escape under certain conditions
  • The owner's property was not securely enclosed to prevent any injuries from happening on their premises
  • Failing to spay or neuter the dog which is common in many regions across the world

What If a Victim Suffers Severe Injury or Death?

In an attack that causes a severe injury or death, insurance companies might deny a claim covered by dog bite liability policies. Therefore, in cases where serious injuries happen after being attacked by a canine, homeowners should speak with their insurance agent to review their options for potential compensation from their homeowners' insurance policy.

Hiring an Injury Accident Attorney to Recover Damages for Dog Bites

Are you or a loved one the victim of a dog bite injury? Are you wondering if there is insurance coverage for dog bites that can pay liability claims?

The premises liability attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can work on your behalf to hold the pet owners legally and financially accountable for dog-related injuries. Contact us at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a consultation to discuss maximum compensation.

We accept all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits involving dog bites through contingency fee agreements. This promise ensures you pay nothing until we resolve your case through a negotiated settlement or jury award.

Insurance Coverage for Dog Bites Resources:

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