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Dogs are an important part of family life today. Ideally, a family will engage in responsible dog ownership, keeping beloved pets on a leash and protecting strangers from them. But occasionally a pet will injure another, whether through irresponsible pet ownership or a tragic accident. Andrew Davick recently spoke to KROC-AM about dog bite liability for homeowners.
The Dog Bite Statute

What is the dog bite statute? The term “dog bite statute” is a bit of a misnomer. The statute actually covers any affirmative actions by a dog that result in injury to a person or pet.

Are there any defenses to a dog bite? There are only two defenses. In one defense, the pet’s owner says the person was trespassing on his property at the time the injury occurred. If someone breaks into a home and a dog bites him, that pet’s owner will likely be cleared of any legal responsibility.

What is the second defense to a dog bite claim? A second defense is provocation. If the injured party was provoking the dog in some way, such as hitting him with a stick, and the dog attacks, that would eliminate any liability on the part of the pet owner. But bites aren’t the only injury types that can lead to a claim against a pet owner.

Other Injuries

What other types of injuries are there? A dog’s owner could cause an accident by running in front of a motorcycle or chasing after a car. In this case, there may not even be physical content, but the dog’s owner could be found negligent due to the fact that the dog’s actions led to an accident.

What if my dog runs into the road and someone swerves to avoid it? The dog’s actions must have been directed specifically toward the injured party. If a dog runs into the road without targeting the injured party’s vehicle, the dog’s owner won’t be held responsible.

Protection for Pet Owners

How can homeowners protect themselves against dog-related injury claims? One thing pet owners should do is make sure they have a good insurance policy in place that protects against any injury caused by their pets. Pet owners should also keep dogs on a leash unless they are indoors or in a fenced area.

Does the type of dog you have matter? Some insurance companies won’t allow certain types of dogs, such as pit bulls or Akitas. If someone does have that type of dog, it should be mentioned when an insurance policy is purchased to cover injuries caused by pets.

Will my insurance rates vary based on the type of dog I have? Insurance rates can be higher for certain pet types, so owners should check. A homeowner should make sure his insurance is always updated to reflect his current pet situation, whether he gets a new pet, loses a pet, or changes the type of pet he has.

If you have questions about liability concerning pet-related injury, contact Meshbesher & Spence at 1-888-728-9866.