Does Renter’s Insurance Cover Dog Bites?
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Dog bite injuries can be especially serious, as they can cause long-term physical and emotional damage to victims. It may often be confusing for victims trying to discover who may be liable for these injuries. In some cases, renter’s insurance may cover dog bite injuries and provide compensation for victims.
If you or a loved one has been bitten or attacked by a dog, you should contact a dog bite lawyer from Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation. If we cannot win your case, you will not owe us anything.
RENTER’S INSURANCE AND DOG BITES
If you have been bitten by a dog, you may be unsure of how to pay for your medical bills. Often, the owner of the dog may have homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance that may include personal liability coverage covering dog bites.
However, while homeowner’s insurance may cover dog bites even when they occur away from the home, renter’s insurance coverage may only apply to dog bites that occur within the rented home. Thus, if you were bitten while on a walk and not on the rented property, the dog owner’s renter’s insurance may not cover your injuries. If the renter’s insurance policy provides coverage for dog bite liability, this dog bite insurance coverage may include compensation for everything from medical bills to the costs of a lawsuit or settlement. However, most insurance policies also contain coverage limits. These limits mean that the insurer will only pay up to that amount, leaving the dog owner personally liable for any additional amounts of damages over that amount.
WHICH DOG BREEDS MAY BE EXCLUDED FROM RENTER’S INSURANCE COVERAGE?
Many renter’s pet insurance policies may exclude certain breeds of dogs from coverage because many insurers consider these breeds violent and more likely to bite. These exclusions may vary from policy to policy and insurer to insurer as well. Insurance companies generally evaluate the risk of specific breeds by considering factors such as size, aggression, or dog bite statistics by breed. Breeds that are commonly excluded from coverage under renter’s insurance policies include:
- German Shepherds
- Pit Bulls
- Doberman Pinschers
- Great Danes
- Staffordshire Terriers
- Chow Chows
- American Bulldogs
This list is not comprehensive, and the specific policy in question will have to be examined for an accurate list of breeds excluded from coverage. Further, some insurance companies do offer renter’s insurance policies that do not require dog owners to disclose their pet’s breed or that does not otherwise discriminate by breed.
Learn More: Dog Bite Statistics
COMMON INJURIES FROM DOG ATTACKS
Lacerations are deep cuts in the skin caused by the dog’s teeth biting down into the skin. These lacerations often go deeper than the skin and into muscles, nerves, blood vessels, or even to the bone. Lacerations may cause excessive bleeding and need immediate medical attention to stop the bleeding and avoid infections.
Puncture wounds may occur when the dog’s teeth puncture your skin. These wounds may be much deeper than lacerations, increasing the risk of infection in the wound.
One of the most common injuries caused by dog bites may be the resulting infections. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infections may occur in at least 10 to 15 percent of dog bites. These infections may arise from germs or bacteria that enter the wound after the bite, but often from the bacteria found in the dog’s mouth. If your wound is not immediately cleaned and kept clean as it heals, you may risk serious and possibly life-threatening infections such as rabies, Pasteurella, MRSA, tetanus, or capnocytophaga.
Dog bites often cause scarring in victims, which can be especially difficult when the victim’s face was bitten. Scarring may be treated using skin grafts, laser therapy, or various other skin treatments.
Some dog bites may also cause nerve damage if the bite extends into the nerves. Depending on the extent of the injury and nerve damage, you may suffer a temporary loss of function or you could possibly even permanently lose function in that part of your body. Extreme cases of nerve damage from dog bites may even cause permanent paralysis depending on the severity and location of the bite.
Avulsions are common injuries suffered in particularly devastating dog attacks. Because of the powerful jaw muscles and force exerted through its bite, many dogs may rip large chunks of skin or tissue away from your body. For instance, a dog may rip a chunk of muscle from your leg, bite an ear off your head, or fingers off your hand. Avulsion injuries are extremely serious and must be treated immediately to avoid infections and try to prevent permanent scarring.
Finally, some of the worst dog attacks may even be fatal. In some cases, overly aggressive dogs, or groups of dogs, may kill a victim in an attack, especially if the dog bites through the victim’s throat or another location causing the victim to lose too much blood.
WHO MAY BE LIABLE FOR DOG BITES?
The dog’s owner will most commonly be liable for any injuries caused by the owner’s dog. In some cases, the owner of the property where you were bitten may also be liable for your injuries if the property owner is not also the dog’s owner. Determining who was liable for the dog bite will be the first step in learning whether renter’s insurance may cover your dog bite injury.
HOW MUCH MONEY CAN YOU GET FROM A DOG ATTACK?
Depending on the circumstances of the dog attack and your injuries, you may be entitled to significant compensation. The amount of compensation available may also be higher if the victim of the dog bite is a child. You may be entitled to compensation for a variety of damages, including:
You may be entitled to compensation for any medical expenses caused by the dog bite. This may include hospital or doctor visits to treat the wound as well as any necessary follow-up visits to prevent or treat any infections caused by the dog bite. Compensation for medical expenses may also include costs for any medication, necessary therapy, or any other treatment required to allow the victim to recover. You will need to maintain all medical records pertaining to your injuries to prove the extent of your injuries as well as the total costs of your treatment.
Compensation for any lost wages or income may be included as well if you were forced to miss any time from work as a result of your dog bite injury. This missed time may include any work you missed while seeking treatment for your injuries as well as any time missed while you were otherwise unable to work due to your injuries. You will need documentation proving that you missed work as a result of your injuries while also documenting the amount of work missed and your rate of pay.
Loss of Earning Capacity
If the dog bite causes permanent damage, such as a permanent loss of muscle, missing limbs or digits, or other serious injuries, you may also be entitled to compensation if these injuries cause you to lose the ability to earn as much as you were previously earning. For example, if the dog bites off two of your fingers and you lose the function of those fingers, this loss may prevent you from continuing to perform certain types of work, causing you to have to perform lesser-paying jobs.
Pain and Suffering
In addition to compensation for economic damages, you may also be entitled to compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. Pain and suffering includes any mental or emotional anguish or trauma suffered as a result of the dog attack. This may include the pain and suffering you may have suffered as a result of your injuries as well as any future pain and suffering you may experience, such as if have to walk with a limp for the rest of your life. In severe attacks, mental anguish may include any PTSD you suffered causing you to have nightmares or flashbacks to the dog attack.
If the dog attack was fatal, you may be entitled to compensation for the wrongful death of your loved one. Many states have specific statutes governing wrongful death claims, which will need to be closely followed to pursue any compensation. These laws may require you to have had a specific relationship with the victim, such as if they were your parent, spouse, or child.
In some cases, you may also be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages are typically awarded to punish the party at fault. For instance, if the dog’s owner failed to properly leash the dog, as required by state or local law, you may be entitled to punitive damages. Other examples that may justify punitive damages include cases where the dog’s owner may have been aware that the dog had previously bitten or attacked someone while the owner failed to take adequate precautions to ensure that such attacks did not happen again.
Learn More: How to Calculate the Value of Case
HOW A DOG BITE LAWYER CAN HELP
If you or a loved one has been bitten or attacked by a dog, you should contact an experienced dog bite insurance lawyer to discuss your options and whether you may be entitled to any compensation. If the dog bite occurred on a rental property, renter’s insurance dog bite cases may be especially complex and require a dog bite lawyer to help you negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to pursue any compensation you may be entitled to. Your lawyer may examine the insurance policy to determine if any coverage exists as well as help you understand the necessary evidence and documentation that will be required to prove your claim. A dog bite attorney may thoroughly investigate your claim and the circumstances of the dog attack to prove the extent of your injuries as well as the liability of the dog’s owner or the property owner where the attack took place. While most personal injury cases may be complex and require the help of a lawyer, dog bite cases may be even more complicated, especially where renter’s insurance is involved.
GET HELP FROM A DOG BITE ATTORNEY TODAY
At Zinda Law Group, our renter’s pet insurance and dog bite lawyers are here to assist you with your personal injury claim. Our team may help you navigate how best to pursue any compensation you may be entitled to as a result of the dog bite while allowing you to focus on recovery. We help our clients pursue the maximum compensation they may be entitled to after being bitten or attacked by a dog.
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