Does Renters Insurance Cover Dog Bites in Washington?

Dog bite injuries can result in hundreds or thousands of dollars in medical costs, especially if they result in complications such as infections or diseases. If you are a victim of a dog attack in Washington, you may wonder about your options for recovering financial compensation for your medical bills and other losses. In general, property insurance will cover dog bite injuries, including a rental insurance policy.

Dog Bite Liability Laws

Most states use either a strict liability or one-bite rule to determine liability for a dog bite injury. Strict liability means that the owner of a dog will be held automatically liable, or financially responsible, for injuries and damage caused by his or her dog. The victim does not have to prove that the dog owner was negligent or should have prevented the attack to qualify for financial compensation for losses.

In a one-bite state, on the other hand, a victim must show that the dog had previously bitten someone or displayed aggressive behaviors and that the pet owner should have done more to prevent a foreseeable risk of a subsequent attack. This is known as “scienter,” a legal term that refers to someone who knows that an act or conduct is wrong and acts negligently despite this knowledge. Other legal theories commonly used in dog bite injury cases are negligence and negligence per se.

Washington’s Dog Bite Law

Washington is a strict liability dog bite injury state. According to the Revised Code of Washington, Section 16.08.040, the owner of any dog that bites a person while the victim is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place, including the property of the pet owner, will be liable for any damages suffered by the victim, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness. The only exception to this rule is a dog acting in a formal capacity as a police dog.

Rental Insurance and Dog Bite Injuries

Under Washington’s dog bite law, you do not have to prove that a pet owner knew of the dog’s propensity for viciousness to qualify for financial compensation from the owner’s insurance company. Most of these claims go through a property insurance company, as dogs are labeled as property in the eyes of the law. If the pet owner rents his or her home, this will mean rental insurance rather than homeowners insurance.

Renters insurance provides compensation in the event that someone suffers an injury in the policyholder’s rental property. These claims fall under the personal liability clause of the average rental insurance policy. However, some policies do not offer this specific type of coverage, while others exclude certain breeds of dogs from the policy. As an injured victim, you will need to read the terms of the pet owner’s rental insurance policy carefully to find out if the incident is covered. If not, the pet owner may be liable for your damages out of pocket.

Compensation for a Dog Bite Injury

If a dog owner in Washington can be held liable for your injuries from a dog attack, you may be eligible for several economic and noneconomic damages from his or her renters insurance. These include past and future medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and legal fees. Obtaining a fair and full settlement value, however, can be difficult. The pet owner’s rental insurance company may try to save money by devaluing your claim or denying liability.

In this case, contact a Vancouver car accident attorney for assistance with the claims process. An attorney can negotiate with a renters insurance company or take your case to trial, if necessary, to pursue the damages that you deserve. Your lawyer can help you further understand how renters insurance might cover a dog bite injury in Washington.

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