Protecting yourself as a dog owner

Dog owners, especially those with large or potentially aggressive dogs, may want to consider purchasing insurance to cover liability legal expenses for dog bites. It may seem like an unnecessary expense because you don’t believe your dog would ever attack anyone. Perhaps that’s true, but animals — even the most well trained ones — can suddenly become provoked and behave aggressively.

At Burmeister Law Firm, our dog bite attorney, Kathryn Burmeister, has extensive experience with dog bite cases and it’s very helpful when the dog owner has proper insurance coverage just in case.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are around 85 million dogs living in American households and approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs annually. The Association goes on to state that most of the people bitten are children with about 1 in 5 people of all ages bitten require medical attention. 

Despite the bad reputation of certain breeds, such as pitbulls, the American Veterinary Medical Association states, “…it’s not the dog’s breed that determines whether it will bite, but rather the dog’s individual history and behavior.” Any dog can bite, which makes it’s all the more important to protect yourself with insurance coverage.

Understanding dog bite liability and the types of insurance that can cover you helps highlight the importance of having coverage.

Dog bite liability and homeowners insurance coverage

In many cases, homeowners insurance covers dog bite liability and can help mitigate the financial impact occurred due to your dog’s aggressive actions. A typical homeowners policy includes personal liability coverage, which pays out if someone is injured due to your negligence. This covers all sorts of injuries, not only dog bites. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average claim for dog attacks and bites in 2021 was around $49,000. 

A word of caution: Sometimes insurance companies don’t include animal liability coverage in your homeowners policy unless you’ve specifically requested the addition. Make certain to verify this is in your policy, rather than just assuming it’s there. This is crucial in the event your dog seriously injures someone else. 

But what if the injury is minor, requiring only a few stitches at an urgent care center?

That’s where homeowners insurance medical payments come in to help. For instance, if your dog bites your neighbor, this type of insurance comes into play, especially if it was an accident caused by the neighbor. This type of insurance coverage depends on where and what happened, not why it happened or who was at fault. 

Some homeowners insurance won’t cover certain dog breeds including Akitas, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Mastiffs, Cane Corsos, pitbulls, and others. If you have one of those breeds, consider adding additional personal liability insurance or umbrella insurance to get the coverage you need. Another solution is to find an insurance company that doesn’t consider breed when it comes to coverage. Having sufficient insurance coverage protects you, your dog, and others who may come in contact with your beloved pet. 

Dog bite liability and renters insurance coverage

Renters insurance usually protects people renting a home from theft and loss of contents and personal liability. In other words, it typically pays to replace stolen, damaged, or destroyed personal items in the home. It also shields renters from liability in the event someone gets injured while in your home or apartment. 

For injuries that require medical attention or hospitalization, a dog owner’s financial responsibilities can be quite high. For this reason, it’s crucial to understand the amount of personal liability coverage your basic rental policy includes and add additional coverage if the amount is under $50,000. As with homeowners insurance, some rental policies refuse to extend coverage to certain dog breeds. If your pet’s breed falls into this category, consider searching for one of the many companies that do not discriminate based on breed. 

For many people, dogs are more than just pets — they’re part of the family. It’s important to have insurance coverage in place that will cover your liability should your dog injure anyone in the future. 

Burmeister Law Firm represents clients who have suffered injuries from dog attacks, including death, due to owner negligence and other personal injury cases. 

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a dog attack, contact Burmeister Law Firm today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation about your dog attack legal case.

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