Personal Injury, Dog Bites, and Homeowners Insurance

More than 4 million dog bites occur each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Oftentimes, this type of personal injury involves a dog the victim is familiar with. Even if this isn’t the case, you may be wondering whether or not this type of liability is covered by homeowners insurance. Here’s what you need to know.

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Coverage Usually Goes Up to Liability Limits

Both homeowners and renters insurance policies in Illinois and other states typically provide coverage for legal expenses up to the liability limit. This amount normally ranges from $100,000 to $300,000 for most standard policies. However, if expenses related to a bite exceed the liability limit, the owner of the dog is usually responsible for any additional compensation owed to the victim or surviving family members.

Certain Dog Breeds May Not Be Covered

Some insurance companies will not provide dog bite liability coverage for property owners with certain dog breeds. Pit bulls, for instance, are often classified as “dangerous animals” for insurance purposes. Some insurance providers also determine on an individual basis whether or not a particular breed will be covered. There are, however, some insurance providers that do not ask about the breed of dog. Still, if a homeowner’s dog is involved in a biting incident later, higher premiums may be charged – or the company may exclude the dog from coverage altogether.

Some Providers Take Steps to Limit Losses

As is true with any insurance company, providers that offer dog bite-related coverage tend to want to limit losses. This may involve:

  • Not covering dog owners at all
  • Asking dog owners to sign a liability waiver
  • Charging more for owners of certain dog breeds

Other times, a homeowner may be required to have their dog take classes to modify its behavior to reduce risks. Some insurers also require dog owners to properly restrain their dogs when outdoors or put a muzzle on them to prevent bites.

Dog Owners Can Be Responsible for Damages Even without Insurance

If you are bitten by a dog, there may be delays in receiving compensation if the responsible party has no coverage specific to dog bites. There is no legal requirement for insurance providers to automatically provide this type of coverage. If they do, restrictions or exclusions may apply, as discussed above. With situations like this, the responsible dog owner could still be automatically liable as per local or state laws.

How a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer Can Help

The first step a dog bite injury lawyer can take on your behalf is to determine who is legally responsible for the dog that bite you or a family member. Steps can then be taken to reach a settlement or secure appropriate compensation for injuries, lost wages, and other relevant forms of compensation. A personal injury attorney can also handle any additional requests an insurance company may have regarding the incident, especially if there are issues that may delay payments.

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