When a dog bites someone in New Jersey, the dog owner with a homeowners insurance policy should pay for any damages. The insurance company is financially responsible, but that does not mean the claim process will be a breeze. When a person has a dog, the insurance premium often includes coverage for potential bites. Victims should file a claim regardless of whether they know the owner. If you need assistance filing an insurance claim for a dog bite, speak to The New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer.
When a dog bites you, you might be confused about whether you have any legal options. Dog bite victims will have different options for filing insurance claims.
In many cases, a homeowners insurance policy will cover pet damage. These coverages can come as medical payment or personal liability coverage. Insurance providers can help injury victims pay medical expenses for the dog bite. They may also offer coverage for property damage victims incur. Often, insurance policy limits will be a maximum of $100,000 and $300,000, but it will vary by provider.
Insurance companies can decline coverage based on breed or other factors. Sometimes the insurer will inform the policyholder beforehand. Other times, the owner must review policy restrictions. What can sometimes happen is a homeowner believes they are covered until something happens and they realize they are not covered.
Regarding dog bite claims, homeowners insurers will have different provisions. The three main options are:
Certain situations can be covered if the coverage is active and the dog is covered. The most common cases that homeowners insurance companies cover include:
While there are several instances where dog bites are covered, some are not. The following is not an exhaustive list but some common scenarios that might not be covered in a homeowner insurance policy are:
If the dog owner is a renter, they may have a renters insurance policy. When purchasing these plans, renters should look into pet coverage. You can file an insurance claim with the renter’s insurer if you are injured. The policy may cover medical expenses for the victim. Most renter’s insurance policies cover dog bites, but not all do. The New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer will review the renter’s insurance policy to see if coverage is available.
Dog bites can be intentional or unintentional and usually happen quickly. Some bites occur because a dog is afraid, in pain, or aggressive. Other times the dog owner loses control, and the dog escapes running rampant and causing chaos. You must provide documentation to the insurance company about the incident when a dog bites.
When filing a dog bite claim, you must provide as much information as you can access. Some information that you should document includes:
Documenting the incident is vital as much of this information can be used in your insurance claim. The more information you have, the stronger your claim. The insurance company will review the information you provide when assessing your claim.
Another factor in documenting your dog bite incident is how long you have to do so. New Jersey statutes of limitations are two years for dog bite claims. This means you should work quickly to gather your documentation and start the legal process quickly. Speak to The New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer for help dealing with stringent deadlines and gathering documentation relevant to your claim.
Every dog bite case has individual factors that can impact liability. New Jersey also has various laws regarding leashes, injured person’s rights, and liability. If a dog has bitten you, you should familiarize yourself with how these laws can apply to your case. Our New Jersey dog bite lawyers can help determine which laws are relevant to you when you speak to us.
Many times if the injured person has a relationship with the owner, they might not have liability. However, the dog owner can argue that the injured person has comparative negligence. This might mean that the injured person knew the dog was aggressive or could bite and disregarded that knowledge. These types of defenses can get complicated quickly. A counterpoint to the person knowing the dog’s temperament is why the owner allowed a dangerous dog around people.
Under strict liability, when a person’s dog bites another person, they are responsible for paying any damages incurred. The injured party must be permitted in the area. Strict liability does not typically apply to a trespasser. Some losses that dog bite victims may incur might include medical treatment, lost wages, etc. A New Jersey dog bite lawyer can help determine what losses your case is eligible for.
New Jersey requires that dogs be leashed when out in public. A few exceptions exist, such as when they are in a dog park. If the offending dog was unleashed, it could help with liability issues. Sometimes dogs will be leashed and still attack. Instead of biting, they will knock the person over. Strict liability applies to bites, not injuries from being knocked over. The injured party must prove that the dog owner was negligent. No leash can help prove negligence.
Another way to address liability concerns is by investigating and gathering evidence. Eyewitness testimony is significant because it involves people with a typically unbiased opinion about what happened. Surveillance and video footage can also be vital to your claim. Looking into the dog’s history can also uncover evidence about liability. If the dog has a dangerous designation or a history of biting, it can indicate its propensity to bite or attack again.
Insurance companies have some responsibility for paying for dog bite incidents if the dog owner has an insurance policy. Victims often tend to speak to insurance companies independently to resolve the incident. This is a mistake. Do not speak to your or the other person’s insurer. They will take statements and look for ways to deny claims.
Instead, you should work with The New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer, who can handle the insurance process. We will speak to the insurance company to file a report and start a claim. Accepting an offer from the insurance company without legal assistance is a mistake. You should only speak to an adjuster with your lawyer present.
Even if you do not report the incident, the insurance company may become aware of the incident and contact you instead. Their goal, however, is to lower their financial responsibilities. They will not accurately explain your rights or offer you appropriate compensation. Remember insurance adjusters deal with claims daily and are well-versed in finding information to use against you.
Do not sign any waivers, release or agree to recorded statements from the insurance company. You should review this information and make decisions with the legal assistance of a dog bite lawyer in New Jersey. We know what to look for and how to address the insurance company.
The insurance claim process is challenging since insurance companies fight to deny claims. You can take some vital steps to increase your chances of success. Some of those steps include:
There are between 80 and 90 million dogs in the United States, with 4.5 million people being bitten yearly. In 2022 alone, there were 17,597 dog bite claims reported. There were 550 claims in New Jersey. Homeowner insurance spent over one billion dollars paying these claims.
A dog bite can result in thousands of dollars in medical treatment. You must work with The New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer when filing an insurance claim. Call us for an initial consultation to assess your options.