Damages in Dog Bite Cases
What Types of Damages Are Available in a Dog Bite Case?
Dog bite injuries can have a devastating physical and emotional effect on the victim and can take a huge financial toll on the victim’s entire family.
The types of compensation and the total amount that you may be owed will depend on both the theory upon which liability is based and the facts surrounding the attack. Damages in dog attack cases usually include (a) economic losses and (b) non-economic losses. Economic losses are objective, measurable losses, while non-economic losses refer to intangible losses. Sometimes the family of someone who is bitten can receive compensation as well. If you have suffered a dog attack, you should consult the dog bite lawyers at The Reeves Law Group, who will be able to advise you on the damages that you may be owed.
Economic damages can include:
- Medical costs
- Lost income
- Diminished future earnings
- Life care
Non-economic damages that may be awarded to a dog bite injury victim and/or his family members include:
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
If the victim of the attack dies from their injuries, family members may be entitled to additional damages by suing for “wrongful death.” To establish this type of a case it is necessary to show that the dog attack victim died because of the animal’s bites and that the surviving family members have suffered financially because of the death.
Who Will Pay My Dog Bite Injury Damages?
Dog bite cases differ from many other types of personal injury actions because the dog’s owner, the person most often liable for the attack, is frequently a neighbor or a friend. The victim, concerned about subjecting his friend or neighbor to economic hardship, may elect not to seek damages. In most dog bite cases, however, the responsible party will carry insurance that will cover the damages. An attorney will be able to help you determine whether the responsible party or parties in your case carry insurance and whether their policies would cover your claim.
Depending on both the facts of your case and the specifics of the policies, insurance that may be available to pay a victim’s losses could include:
Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance: The personal liability provision of a dog owner’s homeowner’s policy will generally cover dog bite injuries, including those that occur off the dog owner’s property. There is, however, an increasing trend among insurance carriers to exclude from coverage either all dog bites or injuries caused by certain breeds of dogs, such as Pit Bulls and Rottweilers. Those policies, which do cover dog bites, may limit the number of dog bite claims they will pay and/or the amount they will pay for dog bite injuries.
Personal umbrella liability policies: The dog owner may have an umbrella policy, which provides coverage over and above that provided in a homeowner’s policy, or which may provide coverage for dog inflicted injuries, even if such injuries are excluded from the underlying homeowner’s policy.
Auto liability insurance: An auto liability policy will generally cover a claim if the dog bite occurred in the car. In one case, a dog tied to a car attacked a woman as she walked by. The auto insurance carrier covered the dog injury claim.
Dog owner insurance: In some instances where a dog owner’s homeowner’s or renter policy has limited coverage for dog bite injuries, a dog owner may have acquired a separate policy that specifically provides coverage for dog attacks. These policies tend to have strict coverage limits, requiring, for example, that the dog be leashed or confined when outside, and limiting coverage to injuries occurring on the dog owner’s property.
If persons other than the dog’s owner are liable for your dog bite injuries, their insurance will generally cover their liability for your injuries as well. Canine professionals, such as breeders and veterinarians, will carry professional insurance policies. Commercial general liability insurance covers stores and businesses, and landlord’s policies generally cover the liabilities of the owner, occupier and/or manager of the property.
Not all claims are covered by insurance, however. In California, no insurance policy will cover the victim’s dog bite injuries if they were the result of an intentional act, such as a battery. And, of course, in some instances, the liable party may simply be uninsured, in which case he or she will be your only source of payment.
After being bitten, you should consult with a knowledgeable dog bite attorney as soon as possible. A skilled dog bite lawyer will pursue your claim against all potential defendants in order to maximize your chances of recovering the most compensation possible.
The Reeves Law Group has successfully represented thousands of people over the last 25 years and has extensive experience in dog bite cases and a record of exceptional results. Our dog bite lawyers have the expertise and the resources necessary to identify all potential defendants, secure evidence, locate witnesses, negotiate with insurance carriers, and if required, guide your case through trial. If you have been attacked by a dog, or if someone you know was bitten, contact our office to schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers.