As a Los Angeles accident attorney, most of my cases involve auto accidents or slip/trip-and-falls on the sidewalk in LA.
From time to time, I’m asked about dog bite liability. Is an owner always liable when his/her dog injures another?
And does homeowner’s insurance cover dog bites/pet liability?
The California Civil Code (Section 3342) makes a dog owner strictly liable for injuries caused by his or her dog. Unlike other states, in California, a victim does not need to prove that the dog had a history of prior attacks or biting other people in the past. Instead, a dog owner is automatically responsible for injuries his/her dog causes, even if it’s the very first time the dog bit someone.
As for the second question: Does homeowner insurance cover dog bites?
Many times, the answer is yes. Many policies cover pet liability, even if the dog bites someone off the insured property owner’s premises. A detailed review of the homeowner’s policy would need to be performed.
Some particular dog breeds are excluded from coverage. Pet owners should always disclose their pet ownership to their homeowner’s insurance carrier to avoid possible denials or unwanted surprises in the future.
Pet owners should also keep their pets’ vaccination records handy. The first thing a dog bite victim would need is proof that the animal is properly vaccinated.
I can empathize with dog bite victims. My own daughter was attacked by a dog a few years ago while riding her scooter in the neighborhood. I know how traumatizing a dog bite can be, especially for small children.
Across the country, approximately 1,000 people are hospitalized every day as a result of dog bites. Dog bites can cause severe puncture wounds requiring stitches, or worse, G0d forbid.
While we all enjoy a friendly pooch, if things go south, you know who to call!