National Dog Bite Prevention Week is May 15-21, 2011. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), dog bites accounted for more than one-third of homeowners insurance liability claims paid out in 2010, costing nearly $413M.
There are three kinds of laws that impose liability on owners:
1. Dog-bite statute: The dog owner is automatically liable for any injury or property damage the dog causes, even without provocation.
2. “One-bite” rule: In some states, the owner is not held liable for the first bite the dog inflicts. Once an animal has demonstrated vicious behavior, such as biting or otherwise displaying a ‘vicious propensity’, the owner can be held liable. Some states have moved away from the one-bite rule and hold owners responsible for any injury, regardless of whether the animal has previously bitten someone.
3. Negligence laws: The dog owner is liable if the injury occurred because he or she was unreasonably careless (negligent) in controlling the dog.
How to Protect Yourself And Your Assets:
• Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically cover dog bite liability;
• Sometimes a standard homeowners or auto policy may not provide enough coverage if your dog were to bite someone. III advises homeowners to consider purchasing a personal excess liability policy (Umbrella Policy), which will protect you against personal liabilities, such as dog bites;
• Prevent your dog from biting anyone in the first place; the most dangerous dogs are those that have poor training, irresponsible ownership and breeding practices that foster viciousness.
For more information on Dog Bite Prevention Week, visit http://www.iii.org/press_releases/lawsuits-bite-irresponsible-dog-owners-endanger-othersand-their-assets.html