Dog bites frequently generate personal injury claims. In most states it is unlawful for an owner to fail to keep a dog confined on the owner’s premises or firmly secured by means of a collar and chain. Violation of the law resulting in a dog bite is strong evidence of negligence. In this situation, it is likely the plaintiff can recover damages from the dog’s owner or handler. In most cases, homeowner’s insurance will cover dog bite claims. The policy may contain an exclusion in coverage if the bite did not occur in the immediate vicinity of the home. If an insurer disclaims coverage, check the policy wording. It is not unusual for an insurer to base a disclaimer on policy language that does not support it. The language must be analyzed carefully to be sure the disclaimer is proper.
One Free Bite
Some states have what is known as a one free bite rule. This means, under ordinary circumstances, the dog owner would not be responsible for the dog’s first bite. You would have to prove that the dog had previously bitten another person or, at the very least, shown vicious propensities through fierce behavior. In other states, the one free bite rule has been abolished. The plaintiff is no longer required to prove that the dog showed ferocious tendencies prior to the attack. Essentially, you would simply have to prove that the dog owner was careless in confining or handling the dog and that this led to the attack.
The breed of dog is important. Cases involving breeds that are known to be particularly vicious are easier. Certain dogs are also known to do more damage when they bite. Pit bulls, for example, are known to be particularly unpredictable. Often it cannot be determined what triggers their violent behavior. Most dogs bite and release, but pit bulls clamp down with their powerful jaws and do not let go. That is why pit bull injuries can be so horrific. Pit bulls learn this potentially deadly behavior even through seemingly innocent games like tug of war. This is why pit bulls must be properly confined and controlled at all times. Pit bull cases tend to be the most serious and the easiest to settle.
For another blog on dog bite claims, click here.
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