Dog Bites
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Who actually pays the damages to dog bite victims?

Many serious dog attacks involve the dog of a friend, neighbor, or family member. Therefore, victims frequently worry about who will pay their damages because they don't want potentially upset someone that they maintain an on-going relationship with. There is no reason to be worried about your association with the dog owner. Even though the dog owner is technically liable, the damages usually are paid by:

  • Homeowner's insurance;
  • Renter's insurance;
  • Landlord's insurance;
  • Dog owner insurance;
  • Insurance covering employers and breeders, if they are responsible.

Therefore, if you are a bite victim and the dog owner is a friend, neighbor, or family member who is covered by insurance, and if that insurance has a limit high enough to cover your needs, there is no possibility that the owner of the dog will ever have to pay anything toward your compensation.

There have been cases where a defendant in a lawsuit had to pay for damages out of his or her pocket because:

  • The insurance was inadequate;
  • There was no insurance;
  • The defendant acted with actual malice and intentionally caused the injury, and the damages were designed to punish him or her.

However, the victim has complete control as to whether to ask for or collect such compensation. If the victim decides against pursuing certain damages, there is no possibility that the dog owner will have to pay them.

Jim Keller
Partner at Keller & Keller

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Dog Bite Checklist

What to Do if You're Attacked

  • Seek immediate medical attention
  • Take photographs of the wounds
  • Call 911 or animal control to report the incident
  • Take photographs of the dog (if it's safe to do so)
  • Gather information about the dog owner (name, address, phone number, insurance info)
  • Contact an experienced dog bite attorney