If you suffered injuries after a dog attack, you're entitled to compensation from its owner—even if this is the first time the animal has bitten anyone. However, it can be challenging to recover the compensation you deserve if the owner doesn't have insurance. Here’s how to handle this situation.
Verify the Dog Owner’s Insurance Coverage
You shouldn't take the dog owner’s word at face value that they don't have insurance. Many homeowners' insurance policies provide liability insurance coverage for dog bites. If the owner rents a home, they may have renters' insurance with a dog bite policy rider.
However, many landlords don't require tenants to purchase this type of insurance, so people frequently neglect to buy it.
So if the dog's owner claims to not have insurance for this incident, you'll need assistance from an attorney with a background in dog bite personal injuries who can double-check homeowners' and renters' insurance policies to confirm lack of coverage. Then, they'll have to pursue other sources of liability compensation.
Other Sources of Liability in Dog Bite Cases
Your lawyer will investigate the facts surrounding the dog attack and search for other parties who were negligent and face liability for compensating you. They can include:
- Co-owners. Some dogs are owned by more than one person, such as a spouse, partner, or parent. These co-owners may face liability and have insurance coverage for your settlement.
- Dog handler. If another person, such as a dog handler, sitter, or walker was taking care of the animal at the time of the attack, this individual would be responsible for compensation if it's proven their negligence caused your injuries.
- Residential landlords. In California, landlords of residential properties can be found at fault if they knew of the dog’s dangerous behavior and didn't take action to remove the animal from the property.
- Commercial landlords. Unlike residential landlords, commercial landlords have a duty to periodically inspect their properties. If they should have known the dog was dangerous—even if they didn't actually know—they can be found liable for failing to remove it from the property.
- Store owners. If the dog bite occurred in a retail establishment, the law might determine the manager or owner was responsible because they allowed the dog in the store.
- Employer. If you were bitten by a dog on the job, you may be able to file a worker’s compensation claim with your employer.
Can You Sue the Dog Owner?
While you can sue a dog owner without insurance, this might not be a practical option. Litigation is expensive. In addition, if the dog's owner doesn't have insurance to cover your injury losses, it's unlikely they'll have the money to pay what a lawsuit dictates.
Were you or a family member injured in a dog attack in San Diego or Southern California? I have vast experience with these claims and will work diligently to pursue all possible channels of compensation you're entitled to under California law. Start a live chat or call my office to schedule your free case evaluation to learn more about how I can assist you.