No one ever expects to be bitten by a dog. Even a beloved friend or family member’s pet can act out of character if the pet feels shocked, scared or threatened.
In the state of California, there is a strict liability in regard to dog bite law. California law states that if a dog bites someone, the dog owner cannot claim that it’s the dog’s first offense or that they didn’t know their dog was dangerous, therefore skirting their liability. The dog owner is strictly liable if the victim was injured as a direct result of the bite and the accident occurred in a lawfully private place, for example, the dog owner’s yard.
Farmers Insurance has recently changed their liability insurance policy regarding dog bites in the state of California. Farmers Insurance is now requiring that all customers sign an exclusion waiver of liability coverage for dog bites if their dog is of a certain breed. Both pet owners and pet lovers alike should be aware of these changes, and both parties should take steps to mitigate the risk of any dog bite or dog attack in virtually every setting where a dog is present.
What Dog Breeds Are Excluded From Farmers’ Insurance Policies?
Farmers’ Insurance has recently decided to no longer provide insurance coverage for homeowners that have pitbulls, rottweilers, or wolf-hybrid pet dogs. While Farmers’ Insurance is not cancelling any policies, homeowners with these breeds of dogs will need to sign an exclusion waiver of liability coverage.
Pitbulls and rottweilers are widely considered to be the most dangerous dog species that exist. According to research from DogsBite.org during a 15-year study spanning from 2005 to 2019, dogs killed a staggering 521 Americans. Pit bulls and rottweilers accounted for 76% – nearly four hundred – of these deaths.
Wolf-dog hybrids are a less popular breed of domestic pet but pose the same risks as pitbulls and rottweilers. The California Department of Health Services states that if a pet dog contains any wolf DNA it its lineage, even one percent, it must be considered a wolf hybrid and treated like an exotic animal. Wolf-hybrid dogs are likely to be dangerous and are prone to attacking humans considering they are typically not tamed or domesticated.
One can argue that any dog breed that is notorious for aggression can be domesticated. But in the event that these types of dogs face aggression, feel threatened, or otherwise feel the need to defend themselves in any domestic situation, a simple dog bite can become fatal.
In the state of California, breed-specific legislation (commonly referred to as a breed ban) is the term for laws that regulate or ban certain dog breeds. Breed bans are outlawed in California, so Farmers’ recent policy update is widely considered a tactic by an insurance company to steer dog owners away from buying or mating these types of dog breeds.
How Does Farmers’ Insurance Policy Updates on Dog Bite Liability Affect Me And My Family?
The group that will be affected most by the Farmers’ Insurance policy update will be dog bite victims. Before this policy update, the standard course of action after being bit by a dog would be to seek medical attention, nurse your injuries, and contact a lawyer in order to file a personal injury lawsuit against the homeowner or dog owner. In a standard personal injury dog bite lawsuit, the injured victim can seek compensation for their injuries, including but not limited to, economic damages like medical bills and lost wages.
With the recent update, people injured in a dog attack or dog bite from a rottweiler pit bull or wolf-hybrid in California will not be able to sue the dog owner. Farmers’ Insurance has initiated a sort of “blanket policy” of exclusion liability in regard to rottweilers, pitbulls, and wolf-hybrids. This means, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances of your attack or bite was. If you were attacked or bitten by a dog of one of these three breeds, you cannot sue the dog’s owner.
What Steps Should I Take After Being Bitten By A Dog In California?
If you’ve been bitten by a dog of any breed, the first step you should take is to seek medical attention. It’s important you properly diagnose and treat any injuries you sustained, and that you receive guidance from a medical professional regarding aftercare and rehabilitation, if necessary.
Next, you should contact a personal injury attorney in California. Only a dog bite lawyer will understand how California’s unique state law applies to the specifics of your accident case. If possible, your lawyer will help you file a personal injury case, holding the dog owner liable and therefore seeking compensation to help you pay your medical bills and make up for lost wages. In some cases, punitive damages can be included to punish the dog owner for negligence or carelessness.
Even if you are unsure what type of dog breed attacked you, contact The Accident Network Law Group. After a consultation with our dog bite injury attorneys, we can help paint a clearer picture of what legal options you have, and will advise you regarding next steps moving forward.
If You Or A Loved One Have Suffered A Dog Bite, Schedule A Consultation With The Accident Network Law Group
It is unclear moving forward if more insurance companies will follow suit with Farmers Insurance’s new dog bite liability exclusion. If so, more and more victims of dog bites will suffer long after they’ve been bitten.
Always remember to be aware of your surroundings, especially when there is a pet like a dog present. If you’re a homeowner with a pet, keep dogs away from guests as much as possible and do your part to mitigate the risk of any danger. Keeping household members and visitors safe from dogs is of the utmost importance, as even one dog bite can cause thousands of dollars in medical bills and can keep you out of work for quite some time.
If you’ve suffered a dog bite in California, contact The Accident Network Law Group to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Your dog bite lawyer will give you legal options for seeking compensation and holding the pet owner liable for your injuries.