In a society where we are pet moms and pet dads, and where a dog is man’s best friend, it’s troubling to contemplate the harm your pet dog might cause. But even the gentlest dog can be provoked, and accidents can happen.
Strict liability for dog bites
In Washington, the dog owner is strictly liable for their dog’s bites, even when there is no prior history of misconduct. Washington does not have a “one-bite” rule.
However, the law does provide exceptions. If it can be shown that the insured person duly provoked the dog or was bitten while trespassing on your property, they wouldn’t have a claim, and your liability is brought down to $0.
Dog bites fall on a spectrum. There are dog bites that barely graze the skin of the person whom the dog bit to utterly catastrophic bites, which can result in critical injury, disfigurement and even death.
There’s a wide range of victims, too. If your gentle, friendly dog is playing with a child or an elderly person, a light bite that would never have harmed a strong adult might catch a child on the neck or in the face, or wreak havoc with an elderly person’s immune system and trigger life-threatening medical complications.
One never knows. So, what do you do?
Canine liability insurance
In addition to training a dog properly, using a leash when in public and doing all the right, responsible things, it behooves the dog owner to be financially prepared. Homeowners’ policies may cover accidents that a dog causes or bites that a dog inflicts, but the coverage may be insufficient and should be augmented by an umbrella or excess policy.
Another option is canine liability insurance. One such a company that sells this protection is InsureMyK9, and there are others, too.
The best course of action is prevention, but financial preparedness is a very close second.
Finally, if an incident occurs, no matter what side of the situation you’re on, it’s helpful to consult with attorneys experienced in this area of the law. For all the case-specific nuances you will encounter, it’s best to have professional guidance and support.