How Insurance Companies Devalue or Deny Valid Dog Bite Claims
When individuals sustain dog bite injuries, they are often able to recover compensation from the dog’s owner. California is what is known as a “strict liability” state concerning dog bites, which means the injured individual does not have to prove that the dog’s owner was negligent in any way before receiving compensation. However, insurance carriers can use various tactics to deny or devalue a valid dog bite claim in California.
What the Insurance Carriers May Do
If any of the following occur when you file your claim, then it is likely the insurance carrier is working to devalue or deny the claim:
The insurance carrier could dispute liability altogether for the dog bite claim. Sometimes, a carrier will argue that their policyholder is not responsible for the incident. They could say that the injured individual provoked the dog or was trespassing on the policyholder’s property in an attempt to shift the blame for the incident.
Excluding Dog Breeds or Policy Exclusions
There are some cases where homeowners’ or renter’s insurance policies specifically disallow certain breeds of dogs or specific animals that have a history of aggressive behavior. The insurance carrier could deny the claim if the breed of dog involved in the bite incident and subsequent injuries fall under the excluded breeds outlined in the policy.
Questioning the Severity of the Injury
An insurance carrier could attempt to downplay the severity of the injuries caused by the dog bite incident, thus attempting to minimize the damages claimed by the injury victim. The carrier could dispute any medical records put forth, question the necessity of various treatments, or argue that the injuries were not as severe as the victim claimed.
Policy Limits and Coverage Limits
Homeowners’ and renter’s insurance policies will have coverage limits as part of the policy, so if damages resulting from the bite injuries exceed the policy limits, the insurance carrier could deny any additional coverage beyond the limits if they reach their maximum. This would leave the injured party responsible for going after further compensation through a civil personal injury lawsuit against the dog owner.
Delaying or Dragging Out the Claims Process
An insurance carrier could delay or prolong the entire claims process after a dog bite injury occurs. For example, the carrier could request excessive documentation, repeatedly ask for the same information, continuously seek out additional information (that may already be known), conduct lengthy interviews, and more. All of this is done to create frustration and place pressure on the injury victim, possibly leading to an abandoned claim or an acceptance of a lower settlement.
How Can an Attorney Help Your Claim?
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a dog bite incident, we encourage you to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. A Sacramento dog bite injury lawyer can get involved and help stand up to aggressive insurance carriers in these situations. Your lawyer will conduct an investigation into dog bite the incident in order to determine liability. They will handle all negotiations and communications with the insurance carriers. Your lawyer will know the tactics that insurance carriers often use in these cases, and they will work to stand up for your rights in order to recover compensation.