A dog can be a source of companionship, protection, exercise and entertainment. They can also increase your risk for an insurance claim or even a personal injury lawsuit against you. Animals can cause serious physical injury and mental harm when they attack people.
In California, there are strict liability rules that apply to animal ownership. If your pet bites someone either at your property or while you are out in public, the person hurt in that incident could file an insurance claim against your homeowner’s insurance policy. Your coverage can pay for their medical expenses and lost wages, as well as any property damage caused by your pet.
Despite the strict liability rules enshrined in state law, you can defend yourself and your pets against allegations that it was aggressive and vicious.
Did the other person break the law?
If someone enters your yard or your house without your permission, they have broken the law by trespassing. Only those legally on a property have a right to make a claim about injuries from a dog bite attack.
Especially when the circumstances indicate that the so-called victim had other criminal intentions, like burglary, their unlawful presence on your property will greatly diminish their right to bring either an insurance claim or a civil lawsuit against you.
In scenarios where the animal acted to protect you or another member of your household from a person who assaulted or hurt you while at your property or out in a public space, you may be able to use their illegal activity as a defense to the claim.
Did the person provoke your dog?
Animals act on instinct, and even the kindest pet could suddenly snap and bite someone if that individual does something painful or threatening to the animal. Ignoring a dog’s body language or instructions from an animal’s owner about not approaching the dog could weaken someone’s claim after a dog bite incident. If someone taunts or intentionally hurts the dog, their actions to provoke the animal will affect their rights when they want to bring a claim against you.
Learning more about California dog bite laws can help you respond to a homeowner’s insurance claim.