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Determining liability and filing a claim after a dog bite

It is not uncommon for residents in Massachusetts to have a pet. With every type of pet an individual or family owns there comes a certain set of responsibilities. This often means caring for the animal, ensuring it is properly fed, sheltered and in good health. In addition to satisfying the needs of the pet, the owner is also required to make the general public safe from harm by their pet.

A pet owner has the duty of care to protect others from an animal attack. Dog bites are serious situations that could result in severe injuries or even the death of the attacked person. The dog owner could be found liable for the dog bite and a personal injury claim could be filed in order to obtain compensation for the associated injuries and damages.

Once liability is determined, the injured party could file a claim directly against the owner of the dog or other animal. In some matters, the owner's homeowner's insurance will cover liability that arises from the dog attack. If the incident occurred on their property, the homeowner's insurance could cover up to a certain amount of the claim. This is dependent on their policy. In some situations, the policy could also extend to a dog bite that occurred when the owner was walking their dog near their home.

If a dog attack or bite occurred while the canine was in a vehicle, the owner's car insurance policy could cover this incident. The claim filed by the injured party could be covered by the dog owner's automobile insurance. The details of the incident could prevent this policy from covering the incident, so the location of the vehicle and the location of the dog when the attack occurred are important.

Lastly, some dog owners may have an insurance policy for their dog. While most companies will not cover dog bites directly, especially if the dog has a record of past attacks, a specialized coverage may be purchased for a dog.

Whether the dog owner has insurance or not that could cover a civil suit resulting from a dog bite, the owner is still liable for the damages associated with the dog attack. The victims of dog bites should understand their rights and possible legal remedies against the liable parties. Conducting a detailed investigation could help the victim determine if more than one party is liable and who they are able to file a claim against.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Animal Bites: Who Pays Damages?" Accessed on Sep. 1, 2014

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