If you suffered injuries due to a dog bite or attack, you may be entitled to compensation from the dog’s owner under California’s dog bite laws. You could be owed hundreds of thousands of dollars or more if you suffered a long-term injury that requires expensive medical treatments and months or longer off work with no paycheck. You need to know how much insurance coverage the dog’s owner has to pay you before you settle your claim.
Why You Need to Know How Much Insurance Coverage the Dog Owner Has
The reality is that most dog owners would not have sufficient cash or other assets to pay you the compensation you are entitled to. The best way to ensure that you receive the maximum recovery you deserve is the file a claim with their insurance company. However, they are only responsible to pay you up to the policy coverage limits no matter how strong your case is.
You must know how much coverage there is under the owner’s insurance policy before deciding whether to accept a settlement offer. Here are two reasons this is important:
- You might accept less money in your settlement than you should receive if you do not know how much liability insurance coverage the owner has. You cannot rely on what the insurance adjuster or the dog owner tells you about how much this amount is.
- If the dog owner has inadequate insurance to fully compensate you, you will need to pursue any other liable parties, such as a co-owner, landlord, or dog owner. You may also need to file a worker’s compensation claim if you were bitten while at your job or pursue a claim with your health insurance company for reimbursement of your medical bills.
Types of Insurance the Dog Owner May Have
The dog owner could have more than one insurance policy that covers dog bite injuries. Types of insurance coverage to look for include:
- Homeowners insurance. If the dog’s owner owns a home, they would be required to purchase homeowners insurance by their mortgage company. You could file a claim for compensation under this policy.
- Renters insurance. Most landlords would require tenants who own a dog to purchase renters insurance. This could be another source of compensation.
- Umbrella policy. An umbrella policy is a supplemental liability insurance policy that the dog owner may have as part of their homeowners or auto insurance policy. It could provide additional compensation if the owner’s insurance coverage is inadequate.
- Commercial policy. If the liable party is a business or landlord, they would have liability coverage through a commercial insurance policy.
How to Find Out the Insurance Policy Limits
The insurance company may try to deny your claim or pay you less than you deserve to save money. You cannot rely on them to tell you the true amount of insurance coverage the dog owner has.
You need to obtain the declaration page for any insurance policies that the owner has. This legal document will list the maximum amount of liability coverage they have. You can obtain this information in a number of ways:
- Ask the owner. If you ask the dog owner for a copy of their declaration page, they may voluntarily provide it to you, especially if you request it before they report the dog bite to their insurance company. If the dog’s owner is a friend or family member, you may feel uncomfortable requesting this information. However, it would be their insurance company—and not them—paying you.
- Send a demand letter. If the insurance company or dog owner is reluctant to provide you with the declaration, you may need to send a demand letter demanding that they do so. You will be much more likely to get them to comply if you retain an experienced dog bite lawyer to send this letter on your behalf.
- File a lawsuit. If the insurance company and owner refuse to give you the declaration page, you can file a lawsuit against the owner and force them to provide it to you through the discovery phase of your case.
Did a dog bite or attack you in Southern California or San Diego? I can help you find out how much insurance is available to compensate you and fight with the insurance company so that you receive a fair settlement. To get started, fill out my convenient online form to schedule your free case evaluation today.