The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that more than 4.5 million dog bite accidents occur in the United States every year. They also report that an average of 800,000 of those incidents require medical attention, most of which are children between the ages of 5 and 9 years old. When a dog attacks or bites a person, the question of liability is bound to come up, especially when medical care is needed.
That is because there are several economic and non-economic damages that dog bite victims might incur, including hospital bills, medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, permanent scarring, PTSD, and more. As a result, victims generally make a personal injury claim for compensation against the dog owner. This leads many dog bite owners to wonder, “Will my insurance cover this? Or do I have to pay for this out-of-pocket?”
Continue reading to learn the key facts regarding dog bite liability laws, including whether or not homeowners’ insurance policies cover the damages and losses that result from a dog bite accident.
Dog Bite Statutes
The laws surrounding dog bites and animal attacks vary from state to state, but primarily, there are two kinds of statutes that govern such cases: strict liability and standard rule of negligence. Under the principle of standard rule of negligence, if a dog owner was aware of their pet’s potential for aggression or danger, then they are liable for any damages and losses caused by a dog bite. This is often referred to as the “one bite rule” and is applied in cases in which there was never reason to believe a dog was a danger to anyone. However, case law on this topic is very fact specific.
Other states operate on strict liability, which holds a dog owner fully responsible for all damage and losses caused by their dog biting someone, even if the dog has never acted aggressively or attacked before. Under strict liability, circumstances like trespassing and provocation do not usually influence or relieve a dog owner’s liability. There are some states that do not apply any laws to dog bite attacks, and leave all burden of proof on the plaintiff party. To learn your states’ dog bite liability laws, consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer who specializes in such cases.
Indiana Dog Bite Liability
Here in Indiana, we use “strict liability” in dog bite and attack cases in certain cases and a negligence standard in other cases.
Homeowners’ Insurance Coverage
Whether or not a dog bite owner is covered in the case of a dog bite or attack depends on various factors, including the type of insurance they have and their dog’s breed. Homeowners’ insurance policies, as well as renters’ insurance policies, typically cover dog bite liability legal expenses, but only up to a certain amount. In the average policy, the legal liability limit can range from $100,000 to $300,000. But if the claim expenses exceed a dog owner’s liability limit on their insurance policy, they have to pay the remainder themselves.
In contrast, some insurance policies will not insure homeowners who have a breed of dogs that is innately prone to aggression or danger, such as German Shepherds, Doberman Pincers, Dalmatians, Great Danes, Rottweilers, Pitt Bulls, and similarly categorized species. For those who are insured, they can expect their premiums may increase after their dog attacks someone.
How to Make a Dog Bite Claim in Indiana
If you or someone you love is a recent victim of a dog bite or attack, contact an Indiana dog bite attorney as soon as possible to learn your rights. You may be entitled to compensation for your damages and losses. Act fast before your state’s statutes of limitations runs outs. Contact the Law Office of Craven, Hoover, and Blazek P.C. at 317-881-2700 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your workplace accident with an experienced Indiana dog bite lawyer you can trust. Not only does our law firm offer free consultations, we never collect lawyer fees unless we recover a settlement for you.