Q: Are dog bite cases covered by homeowners insurance?

A: Homeowners insurance covers most dog bite injuries unless the policy specifically disclaims coverage. Insurance companies are required to investigate each dog bite claim and deal in good faith with the victim.  An attorney can help you sort this out.

Q: Can posting a “Beware of Dog” sign help to offset any liability if the dog bites?

A: Possibly. The sign can help to alert others of the presence of the dog. But if an attack occurs, the specific facts will determine whether there’s any liability.

Q: Do state or local laws cover dog bites?

A: Both. In addition to the state laws, local communities often have animal laws covering bites, leash laws and vaccinations. Some local laws may ban ownership of a certain breed altogether.

Q: Is an owner responsible for injuries to a trespasser?

A: In New Jersey, a dog owner is liable if the bite victim is lawfully upon the private property of such owner when he/she is on the property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he/she is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner thereof.

Q: What do leash laws cover?

A: Many communities have local leash laws that require dogs to be on a leash unless confined to a house or fenced yard, even on your own property. Failing to follow the leash laws combined with the dog biting someone can greatly increase the potential penalties.

Q: What’s the typical settlement for a dog bite case?

A: It’s impossible to determine what the typical settlement value is for dog bite injuries. Damages in a dog bite case include: medical bills, wage loss, pain and suffering, future plastic surgery costs and psychological counseling, if necessary.

Q: Who do I report a dog bite to?

A: Contact the local animal control agency in your community or the police.

Q: Who’s responsible for the injuries of an owner when separating fighting dogs?

A: If a person intervenes to protect a pet or someone else from injury and the rescuer is injured, the owner of the dog may be held responsible for the injury.