Dealing with a dog bite when the owner is a relative or friend

On Behalf of | May 7, 2023 | Dog Bites

Dog bites and other dog-related injuries often are caused by a dog the victim knows. In many cases, the owner is a family member or close friend. 

You may have been at a family gathering where your aunt’s dog got overly excited and took a chunk out of your ankle. Maybe you were at a friend’s pool party when their dog decided she wanted the burger you were preparing to eat and tore into your hand. If a child is the victim, the injuries can be far worse.

In circumstances like these, even if the bite was serious enough that medical treatment is needed, you would likely hesitate to take legal action against the owners – or maybe even to ask them to reimburse you for your expenses. Fortunately, you may not have to.

What homeowners’ insurance typically covers

If the owner has homeowners’ (or even renters’) insurance, it likely covers injuries caused by their pets – even if the pet wasn’t in the home at the time of the injury – as long as the victim wasn’t harassing or harming the dog. 

Generally, it will cover any type of injury caused by the homeowner’s dog (or a dog they’re caring for). For example, maybe while you were accompanying your stepmother as she walked her foster dog, he suddenly leapt up and knocked you to the sidewalk, causing a concussion. Her homeowners’ policy would likely cover it.

What about “dangerous” breeds?

If the dog who caused the injury is one of the breeds that is widely (and often undeservedly) considered dangerous, their homeowners’ policy may not help. It all depends on how conscientious and truthful the owner was. If they got a policy that covers their breed of dog or has no restrictions and disclosed their dog, the insurer should pay out on a claim. Even if the homeowners’ policy doesn’t cover the costs, if they have other coverage (like an umbrella policy), they could be covered under that.

If you or your child was bitten or injured by a dog belonging to someone close to you, you don’t have to sacrifice your relationship to get the compensation you deserve for medical treatment and other expenses and damages. It’s wise to know all of your options.

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