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Are You Properly Insured Against A Dogbite Claim?

Posted by Sandra Worthington | Jul 07, 2022

Do you know if you have appropriate insurance in the event your dog injures someone?

               Will my homeowners insurance cover me in case of a dog bite claim?

Pennsylvania ranks seventh in the nation for the number of dog bite claims in 2021, according to the Insurance Information Institute.  That year, there were 777 dog bite claims in the Commonwealth.  The average cost of those claims was $47,353.  The total value of all claims in Pennsylvania was a whopping $36.8 million dollars.  So, the question that likely leaps to mind for the dog-loving citizen whose pooch has snapped at their ever-amiable mail carrier is, “Am I covered?”

Fortunately, the answer is likely to be “yes” in Pennsylvania.  Homeowners insurance policies usually provide dog bite liability coverage up to the maximum of the policy's liability terms.  That limit typically runs from $100,000 to $300,000 per incident.

               Can I even get insurance for certain breeds, like a German Shepherd, Rottweiler, or Pit Bull?

Again, the answer is “yes.”  Unlike some other states, insurers in Pennsylvania are not permitted to cancel or deny coverage to policyholders who have certain breeds of dog.  In Pennsylvania, you can and will be covered whether your dog is a couch-loving Rottweiler or a Jack Russell terrier with an attitude.

Remember, however, the caution we offered in an earlier dog bite post:  Pennsylvania courts can find a pet owner responsible for “harboring a dangerous dog” even if the dog has never before attacked a person or domestic animal.  This is referred to as the “no free bite” rule.  Commonwealth vs. Hake.    Think long and hard if you should keep a dog, no matter the breed, if the dog could fairly be described as a “dangerous dog.”

Can I be charged with a crime if my dog attacks someone?

It is rare for dog owners to be charged with a crime if their dog severely harms or kills someone.  Nonetheless, it has happened.  A husband and wife in California were convicted of involuntary manslaughter and second-degree murder respectively after their dogs killed a neighbor.  In other, especially egregious cases, dog owners can be criminally charged and ultimately imprisoned.

               What to do if a dog bite occurs

If a dog bites you or someone you know, contact us immediately for a free evaluation of the case.  In Pennsylvania, you have only two years from the date of the dog bite to file suit, and you may lose valuable claims if you fail to contact counsel promptly.  If you miss the deadline, your case will fail no matter how broad the insurance coverage that the dog owner may have.

We have extensive experience handling dog bite cases, so call us for a free, confidential, stress-free consultation at 215-576-5150.  We can help if you or a loved one is bitten by a dog.  For more tips on the do's and don'ts of a dog bite claim, please read our blog, When an animal attacks and our book, The Pennsylvania Dog Bite Book

About the Author

Sandra Worthington

I am all about YOU. You have been in an accident, and you need a lawyer who understands you and your injuries. Many of my clients are active folks of all ages who are or were involved in walking, running, biking, skateboarding, surfing, yoga, weight-lifting, racquet sports, and countless other a...


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