10/3/2012 12:32 AM

Dog Ownership and Bite Laws

We all love our furry friends, but did you know that pet owners could be liable if your dog attacks?  A well-trained dog is the best way to protect owners and other animals. There are about 78 million dogs owned in the US and each year more than 350,000 people are seen in emergency rooms due to dog bites.  Despite the number of victims, only 16,000 of them per year receive money from homeowners and renters insurance. 

Dog Bite Law
When a dog bites someone, that person can usually recover full compensation from the dog owner’s homeowners or renter’s insurance policy.  The legal grounds vary from place to place. 

The One Bite Rule
Dog owners are liable if they know their dog has biting tendencies before an incident occurs.  However, it’s the most difficult for the victim to prove that the dog previously bit someone.  This rule also covers injuries other than bites such as tripping and “knock-downs”.  It’s also the basis for holding third parties such as landlords liable.  A victim is entitled to compensation only if they can prove that the dog previously wanted to bite someone and that the dog owner knew.

Negligence
A dog owner will be held liable if his negligence causes a biting incident.  A common example is allowing a dog to run loose, changing a dog to a tree near a gathering, and walking too many dogs at once.  Violating animal control laws is also another form of negligence.  Many cities have leash laws that prohibit dogs from running and trespassing.  Any violators usually pay full compensation to someone who is hurt as well as a penalty for the crime.

Victim Compensation
One is six dog bites will receive medical attention, usual dog bites does not result in compensation other than medical expenses.  When the injury is serious and the dog owner is liable, the owner or the insurance company has to fully compensate the victim.  Homeowners and renters policies usually provide full coverage for injuries. Victims can receive money for pain, mental suffering, permanent scarring, disability, and medical expenses just to name a few.  Not everybody receives compensation for injuries.  People who work with dogs such as trainers, groomers, and veterinarians are the exceptions to rules of liability.

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