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What if a Dog Owner Has No Insurance?

The law in Massachusetts is very protective to victims of dog bites and allows them to obtain compensation for costs and losses from dog owners. The law mandates that dog owners are strictly liable for injuries their dogs cause, which means there’s no requirement that the victim show the dog owner was negligent or knew the dog was dangerous in order for the victim to be compensated.

The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project indicates the average cost of a hospital stay related to a dog bite was $18,200, which is around 50 percent higher than the average cost of a stay in a hospital due to other injury.  Dog owners should be responsible for compensating victims for these and other costs but our Boston uninsured dog bite injury lawyers know that there are times when the dog owner has no insurance and has difficulty paying the required compensation to the victims.

What Should a Dog Bite Victim Do if a Dog Owner Has No Insurance?

Dog owners typically don’t buy specific policies that provide insurance coverage in case of dog bites.  Instead, dog bites are covered under either homeowner’s insurance policies or renter’s insurance policies. Homeowners may be required by their mortgage lender to have this type of coverage, although it sometimes excludes certain breeds of dogs viewed as dangerous, such as pit bulls.  Renters may be required to have renter’s insurance by their landlords or may voluntarily choose to buy this insurance to protect themselves from loss.

Unfortunately, there are many times when dog owners have no insurance coverage to provide compensation to victims of dog attacks. If this occurs, the victim of the attack has a few different possible options to pursue to obtain the compensation he’s entitled to receive by law.

First, the victim or his attorney could make a claim against the dog owner anyway, despite the lack of insurance coverage. The victim could still win but a problem could arise from trying to collect the judgment. If the dog’s owner has insufficient money to pay the damages as ordered by the court, the victim could be forced to go back to court again to get a lien on property or a wage garnishment order to try to get the money owed. Even then, it can be difficult to recover 100 percent of the costs from an uninsured dog owner.

Second, the victim's attorney can try to determine if someone else was responsible for the bite through aggressive investigation and can pursue a claim against the other party. For example, if a landlord rented to someone with a dangerous dog and was negligent in doing so, the landlord could become responsible for compensating the dog bite victim.  If a dog bite victim's attorney can prove any third party’s negligence or safety law violation was a contributing cause to the dog bite incident, the victim can sue the person who was negligent. Hopefully, the landlord or other negligent defendant would have insurance coverage sufficient to cover dog bite losses.

Victims of dog bites should take prompt action to understand their rights and to begin pursuing a claim to ensure they have the best chance of obtaining coverage for costs and losses.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog bite and the dog owner has no insurance, you still have options for getting compensation. Call 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 to schedule a free consultation with a Massachusetts personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone.