Homeowners Insurance and Dog BitesJuly 27, 2015
In 2014, Maryland lawmakers elected to do away with laws that impose different liability standards on dog owners based on what breed of dog they own. The decision was supported by animal welfare groups and safety advocates who say the new law provides more balanced protection for victims of dog bites and the owners of dogs. However, many homeowners’ insurance companies continue to deny coverage to households with certain breeds of dogs. Sadly, this can leave dog bite victims at risk of not being able to recover adequate compensation for medical bills, lost wages or permanent disfigurement and scarring.
In 2013, dog bite claims accounted for more than one third of all homeowners’ insurance liability claims, costing insurance companies approximately $490 million. The average payout for dog bite claims is roughly $30,000, but actual costs can be much higher. In a 2011 case, a Washington State Superior Court jury awarded a woman attacked by two neighborhood pit bulls $2.2 million for her injuries. The verdict came after the dogs’ owners’ insurance policy capped the amount of compensation at $100,000.
Commonly Excluded Breeds
According to research, breeds found to be more aggressive towards people tend to belong to small- to medium-sized breeds such as collies, toy breeds and spaniels. However, because of their small size and limited strength, they are less likely to be stigmatized by insurance companies. Large breeds are the most likely to be considered high-risk, not because they are more inclined to bite, but because they can inflict more severe injury. Pit Bull Terriers are the breed most commonly discriminated against by insurance companies, but other blacklisted breeds include the following:
- Alaskan Malamute
- Chow Chow
- Doberman Pinscher
- English Bull Terrier
- German Shepherd
- Presa Canario
- Siberian Husky
- Wolf Hybrid
- Any dog that is a mix breed of an ineligible dog
How To Improve Your Chances of Getting and Keeping Homeowner’s Insurance
If you live in Maryland and own a dog, check your homeowners’ insurance policy to make sure you are covered. All dogs, regardless of breed, have the potential to bite if they are scared, provoked or hurt. If your dog has already bitten someone, it can be extremely difficult to get insurance, so it is critical to teach your dog not to bite and to eliminate situations that could cause your dog to attack.
Protecting yourself from liability begins with being a responsible pet owner. Follow these tips to reduce the chance of your dog biting someone and improve your odds of finding affordable insurance coverage.
- Enroll your dog in obedience training classes and reinforce the proper way for your dog to greet people.
- Neutering your male dog has been proven to reduce some types of aggression.
- Always leash your dog when walking.
- If your yard is fenced in, make sure your dog cannot escape by jumping or crawling under the fence.
- Be mindful that your dog can sense how you are feeling. If you are not confident around strangers, do not walk your dog near strangers.
Maryland Dog Bite Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Hold Reckless and Negligent Dog Owners Accountable
If you’ve been seriously injured by someone else’s dog, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Baltimore personal injury lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton have successfully obtained more than $100 million in compensation for victims harmed by negligence. Call 800-547-4LAW (4529) today to schedule your free consultation with one of our highly qualified Maryland dog bite lawyers or contact us online. Someone is available to answer your questions 24-hours a day.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson and we represent dog bite victims throughout Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Towson, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Glen Burnie, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood and Elkridge.