Q: Does homeowner's insurance cover dog bites?
With a few exceptions, homeowner’s insurance does cover dog bites. By design, homeowner's liability insurance pays out to cover damages resulting from the policyholder’s negligence, including many injuries sustained on the property. Rarely will an insurance policy limit the coverage provided in a dog bite case. Dog owners should always be aware of their policy limits, especially if there has been a previous incident with the same dog resulting in a claim.
Do I need to prove negligence in a Georgia dog attack?
Georgia dog bite laws outline a modified version of what is sometimes called the “one bite rule.” This statute allows strict liability for a dog bite or other attack only if the owner knew the dog had a propensity to act in a dangerous or vicious way. Usually, this requires a previous bite. If the dog has a history of similar attacks, all the victim needs to prove is that the owner was somehow negligent (e.g., left the gate open). If the victim can prove this, liability for the dog bite will fall squarely on the shoulders of the dog’s owner.
Note: If the owner is a tenant, liability will likely never fall on the landlord.
In some cases, homeowner’s insurance providers refuse to pay for a second attack by the same dog, so the dog’s owner needs to invest in an umbrella policy to cover the dog or be responsible for damages out-of-pocket.
If the dog involved in the attack has no previous bite history, the victim can still recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other losses by showing violation of local leash laws. These violations can include:
- An owner who leaves the dog unattended and unleashed outside
- An owner whose fence is not secure, allowing dogs to escape
- An owner who fails to control his/her dog on a walk or other outing
- An owner who fails to contain his/her dog when guests approach
What do I need to do if I suffered bite injuries in a Peachtree City dog attack?
Your health needs to come first after a dog bite. Once the dog is secure and you know you are at no additional risk, notify authorities.
Then it is time to get the medical care you need. Because dog bites have a high risk of infection, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible to clean the wounds. You should also take pictures of any injuries to properly document the damage done.
It is imperative that you find out who owns the dog and get his/her contact information before you leave the scene. Without this information, you cannot file a claim to pay for your injuries.
After your doctor treats your wounds, it is time to give us a call. We can help you navigate the insurance claims process and maximize your payout. Once we discuss your case, we contact the dog owner to learn about his/her homeowner’s insurance policy, any umbrella policies, or any other insurance that may cover your damages. Then we collect documentation of your injury-related losses and file a claim.
What type of damages can I recover in a dog bite claim?
Damages after even a seemingly minor dog bite can quickly reach five digits. Severe bite injury payouts are often exponentially higher. Not only can you collect compensation for your past and future medical care, but there are also emotional injuries to consider. Pain and suffering damages may include compensation for:
- Difficulties due to permanent scarring
- Self-esteem problems due to changed appearance
- Emotional trauma
- Fear of dogs, common after a dog bite
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Other emotional and psychological damages
After we get a good idea of your injuries and the cost of your medical treatment, we can estimate a fair value for your claim. This will include past and future lost wages and other financial losses, in addition to physical and emotional damages.
How can I enlist the help of a Peachtree City dog bite attorney?
At the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C., we understand how difficult it can be to know what to do after a dog attack in Peachtree City or the surrounding area. Let us work on your case and file your claim, getting you the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 404-474-0804 to schedule your free, no-obligation case review with our Peachtree City dog bite lawyer.