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Dog bites and insurance claims in California: 5 things to know

| Jun 3, 2016 | Dog Bites |

If you were badly bitten by someone else’s dog, or your child was badly bitten, you may be unsure about bringing legal action.

If the dog was owned by a friend or family member, your uncertainty is understandable. You don’t want to damage a valued relationship in a dispute over who should pay for dog bite injuries.

Keep in mind, however, that homeowners’ insurance exists to address situations such as this. In today’s post, we will discuss five important things to know about insurance and dog bite clams in California.

There is no such thing as a “one-bite rule” in California.

Under the common law, there was a rule that limited the responsibility of dog owners for injuries caused by dogs that had not previously shown dangerous tendencies.

This is not the law in California today. A dog owner is liable for damages done by the dog as long as injured person was lawfully present in the place where the attack occurred.

Owner liability does not only apply to attacks on public property. It also applies to attacks that occur in private homes, as long as the person who was bitten was lawfully present there. Private homeowners insurance is therefore very much in play in dog bite cases.

California led the nation in the number of insurance claims for dog bites in 2015.

Nationally, there were more than 15,000 insurance claims for dog-attack injuries last year. California had by far the highest number of any state, with a total of nearly 1,700.

Los Angeles ranked as the U.S. Postal Service’s “dog-bite capital” in 2014. There are many bites in the San Diego area as well.

This means that you don’t have to feel like you’re being too pushy by bringing a claim for dog-bite injuries. You’ve got plenty of company.

The cost of claims has been going up.

Overall, the number of dog-bite insurance claims has been going down. But the average monetary value of dog-bite claims has been going up.

In California, the average amount paid out last year was $44,933. This was the second highest of any state in the country.

The costs are going up for several reasons. One reason is that overall the cost of medical care has gone up, and dog-bite injuries are no exception to this. Another reason is that in cases of terrible attacks, the amount paid out on claims becomes very high.

Plastic surgery is often required for bites on the face.

Young children are frequent victims of dog bites and often suffer bites to the face. This can result in lacerations, scarring and the need for reconstructive surgery.

In order to repair the damage, it is sometimes necessary to have multiple plastic surgeries.

Having a lawyer on your side to resolve the issues is important.

Dog bites are a big deal for the insurance industry. More than a third of the amount that was paid out on homeowners’ liability claims last year was for injuries involving dogs.

It is therefore important to have a knowledgeable lawyer to advocate for you. Your lawyer can handle the homeowners’ insurance issues with the goal of maximizing your monetary recovery.



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