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Dog Owners Get Sued by Insurance Carrier

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

Today’s question comes from a caller concerned about being bitten by a vicious dog that got loose from a neighbor’s yard.

The caller believes the owner of the property where the dog was kept has insurance. However, the property owner claims the dog was not his, and his insurance company denies coverage. What are our legal options?

This is a situation we encounter all too frequently.

Finding insurance coverage for dog bite injury victims is always a challenge.

Let’s say John Doe owns a three-acre property and has insurance on the property that includes coverage against liability for dog bites.

Suppose a delivery person for Door Dash is seriously injured when a dog got loose from a fenced-in area on John Doe’s property, chased her down, and bit her several times.

If John Doe owns the dog, most likely, there is coverage. Suppose, however, that the dog that attacked the delivery person, was owned by the nephew of John Doe, who was visiting with his dog for a couple of weeks.

In such a case, John Doe’s insurance carrier likely will sue the nephew who owns the dog, John Doe, and the injured delivery person seeking a determination from a court that the insurance carrier does not have to provide liability coverage for the nephew’s dog, arguing that John Doe didn’t own the dog and had no duty to control the dog.

Insurance companies often file a lawsuit of the type we just described seeking release from any obligations to pay a victim or the victim’s family in a vicious dog attack.

If sued, John Doe and the nephew would counter sue seeking an order that the insurance company must provide a defense and indemnify them under the homeowners’ insurance policy that was purchased.

The insurance company will maintain that John Doe is the only insured individual listed on the policy and that the nephew does not qualify as an “insured person.”

The victim is typically named in this type of lawsuit so that the victim is bound by the determinations made by the court.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”