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Does Renters Insurance Cover Dog Bites?

Colburn Law

Renters Insurance and Dog Bites

 

While dogs are a popular pet in Washington state, these animals have the ability to severely injure humans. Dog bites can cause permanent disfigurement, scarring, and infections, resulting in high medical expenses, lost wages, psychological trauma, and many other physical, emotional, and financial losses.

If you are a dog bite victim, you may wonder if the negligent owner’s rental insurance can provide compensation for your injuries. While coverage varies from company to company, the at-fault owner’s insurance may be able to help you recover from your damages. For more information, contact a Seattle dog bite lawyer at Colburn Law today.

Washington’s Dog Bite Laws

Washington is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites. This rule states that a dog owner can be liable for another person’s damages if his or her dog bites that person, even if the owner had no reason to believe that the dog could be dangerous. The dog does not have to have a history of violent behavior for a victim to receive the compensation he or she deserves.

According to Revised Code of Washington section 16.08.040, a dog owner is liable for the injuries his or her animal causes if the incident meets the following criteria.

  • The victim of the attack was either in a public place or had the legal right to be in a private place.
  • The victim did not provoke the dog.

Rental Insurance and Dog Attacks

If a court finds that a dog owner is liable for a bite, he or she will need to pay for the damages that the victim suffered. These damages can include economic and non-economic losses, including past and future medical expenses, lost wages, physical pain, and emotional trauma, among others. While the circumstances vary from case to case, dog bite settlements can easily total thousands of dollars.

These settlements are usually too high for an individual to pay on his or her own, which is where insurance steps in. Rental insurance is a form of home insurance, and most home insurance policies protect policyholders against three main threats: theft, loss of property, and liability. In addition to paying for lost, stolen, or damaged personal property, this insurance provides compensation in case someone suffers an injury in the policyholder’s rental home.

Dog bites typically fall under the personal liability clause of a rental insurance policy, although the terms of the dog owner’s specific coverage will vary. Some policies do not provide coverage for dog bites at all, and some companies exclude certain breeds of dogs from the policy. For example, traditionally aggressive dogs like rottweilers or pit bulls may not qualify for coverage.

If you suffer an injury in a dog attack, you will need to examine the terms of the at-fault owner’s rental policy carefully. The company may pay for your damages following your lawsuit as long as the owner has the appropriate coverage. If the owner does not have insurance or his or her policy does not cover dog attacks, the owner may need to pay for your damages out of pocket.

What to Do After a Washington Dog Attack

Dog attacks can be terrifying events. If a dog is posing an immediate threat to you, you should get to a safe place as soon as possible and call 911. Report the incident to law enforcement, seek emergency medical treatment, and save all records related to your injuries. If you are able, identify the dog’s owner and collect his or her contact information.

After these initial steps, contact a Seattle personal injury attorney as soon as you can. Your attorney can investigate your case and protect you against accusations of liability from the owner, developing a compelling case in your favor. If you have not done so already, speak with your lawyer to discuss your legal options.

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