What If the Dog Owner Doesn't Have Insurance?

People who are injured in dog attacks often wonder: “Who will pay for my injuries?” Most dog bite claims are paid by the dog owner ’s homeowner ’s insurance. Many people who are injured by dog bites—especially children—know the owner of the dog, and therefore often worry that they will strain a valuable relationship if they pursue legal action. But the vast majority of dog bite claims are fully paid by insurance companies and not the dog ’s owner.

Dog bite victims in New Mexico typically pursue compensation through an insurance policy associated with the dog ’s owner; typically homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. If no such policy can be found, the victim might have recourse to pursue recovery through other means. Sometimes, applicable coverage can be found through landlord or condominium insurance, commercial general liability insurance and even motor vehicle insurance, if the incident occurred in connection with the use of a vehicle.

Locating Insurance

The easiest way to determine whether an insurance policy exists is to simply ask the dog’s owner. Oftentimes, the responsible party will be forthcoming with contact information for his or her insurance company, and may even provide a policy number. If the owner of an animal refuses to produce insurance information, the only way to find out for sure is by filing a lawsuit. During the discovery and disclosure phase, any potentially applicable policy must be disclosed and those policies are closely interrogated.

Some insurance policies include exclusions for dog bites. These exclusions might include all instances of animal violence or merely certain potentially dangerous breeds.

A New Mexico attorney well versed in dog bite law can determine whether these exclusions are valid or whether a settlement is still possible.