Dog bites (when a dog bites someone other than its owner) leading to insurance claims are fairly common in the United States.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries cost homeowners’ insurers $797 million in 2019. And the number of dog bite claims nationwide rose to 17,802 in 2019 from 17,297 in 2018.
There’s no reason to suspect that number will be lower after 2020 comes to an end.
The average cost per claim is also increasing, up by 14.7 percent in 2019. The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $44,760 in 2019 up from $39,017 in 2018.
The average cost per claim nationally has risen 134 percent from 2003 to 2019, due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs, which are trending upwards in some states.
In 2019, Texas had the third highest number of dog bite claims compared with all the other states – 937 claims at an average cost of $40,854.
All that to say that if you or someone you know has been bitten by a dangerous dog, it’s possible a claim might be paid out.
Of course, as with any insurance case, it depends upon the circumstances.
Unlike many states, Texas does not have a statute that specifically covers a dog owner’s civil liability for damages caused by their dog biting someone.
Instead, Texas is a “one bite rule” as far as personal injury cases for dog bites are concerned. That means the injured person needs to show negligence on the part of the dog owner.
Typically, that means showing that either:
- the owner knew the dog had bitten someone else or acted aggressively toward someone else previously
- the owner did not use reasonable care to prevent the bite and control the dog, and the bite happened because of that lack of care
If the dog bit someone else before, the courts might classify the dog as “dangerous” even if the previous bite didn’t cause any serious injury.
In that case, the injured person would not have to prove the owner failed to use reasonable care – simply proving that the dog was already known to be “dangerous” might be enough to receive a settlement.
Usually, the dog owner’s homeowners insurance policy will pay for the claim – if the owner has that coverage. The owner is then liable for any damages awarded over that insurance policy’s coverage limit.
But what if the owner has no insurance? The injured person can still sue, with hopes of being paid directly by the owner or perhaps garnishing his or her bank account over time. In Texas, you cannot garnish someone’s wages for a personal injury suit. If a homeowner does not have insurance, it gets complicated; and it can be expensive to bring such a lawsuit through to completion.
We have offices in Houston, Corpus Christi, and Victoria; and will travel to any corner of Texas if we are capable of preventing an injustice.
If you or someone you know were bitten by another person’s dog, you may have the grounds to file a claim against the owner or their insurance company. Use our contact form here on our website or text with attorney Steve Carrigan at (361) 884-4437.
Carrigan & Anderson has been successful recovering damages individuals are due from injuries like dog bite attacks. With Steve’s experience in personal injury and David Anderson’s expertise in recovering money from homeowner’s insurance companies, our firm is uniquely qualified to represent individuals injured by dog bite attacks.
You don’t have to suffer, and you don’t have to go through this on your own.
At Carrigan & Anderson, PLLC we can talk to you about your options and rights.