Personal Injury: Dog Bite FAQs


Q: Are dog bite cases covered by homeowners insurance?

  • A: Homeowners insurance covers most dog bite injuries. Insurance companies are required to investigate each dog bite claim and deal in good faith with the victim.


Q: Can posting a "Beware of Dog" sign help to offset any liability if the dog bites?

  • A: Possibly. The sign can help to alert others of the presence of the dog. But if an attack occurs, the specific facts will determine whether there's any liability.


Q: Do state or local laws cover dog bites?

  • A: Both. In addition to the state laws, local communities often have animal laws covering bites, leash laws and vaccinations. Some local laws may ban ownership of a certain breed altogether.


Q: Is an owner responsible for injuries to a trespasser?

  • A: While you'll want to discuss the specifics of the situation with a local lawyer, if an individual is trespassing when bitten, dog owners are often protected from being sued.


Q: What do leash laws cover?

  • A: Most communities have local leash laws that require dogs to be on a leash unless confined to a house or fenced yard, even on your own property. Failing to follow the leash laws combined with the dog biting someone can greatly increase the potential penalties.


Q: What does "strict liability" mean?

  • A: Many states have moved away from the "one free bite rule" and hold owners responsible for any injury, regardless of whether the animal has previously shown aggressive tendencies. This is referred to as "strict liability."


Q: What's the average settlement for a dog bite case?

  • A: It's impossible to state an "average" settlement for dog bite injuries. Damages in a dog bite case include:
    • Medical bills
    • Wage loss
    • Pain and suffering
    • Future plastic surgery costs and
    • Psychological counseling, if necessary


Q: What's the "one free bite" rule?

  • A: In some states, the owner isn't held liable for the first bite the dog inflicts. Once an animal has demonstrated vicious behavior, biting or otherwise displaying a "vicious propensity", the owner can be held liable.


Q: Who do I report a dog bite to?

  • A: Contact the local animal control agency in your community or the police.


Q: Who's responsible for the injuries of an owner when separating fighting dogs?

  • A: If a person intervenes to protect a pet or someone else from injury and the rescuer is injured, the owner of the dog may be held responsible for the injury.



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