How does dog bite liability work?

While over at your friend’s house recently, her dog bit you while playing. Neither you nor your friend knows how to handle the situation, and you want to proceed in a way that protects your friendship. 

Insurance Information Institute offers insights and facts on homeowners and pet harm. Understand how to recover from injury and preserve your relationship. 

Homeowners insurance

If your friend has renters or homeowners insurance, it likely covers dog bites. Typical liability limits stretch to $100,000 to $300,000. If your injuries exceed that amount, your friend bears financial responsibility for anything over the liability limit. 

Even with a policy, not all insurance companies cover every dog breed, so have your friend check her policy or contact her provider to see whether they insure her dog’s breed. She may also work with an insurer that handles dog bites individually rather than according to breed. 

Local and state regulations

Depending on where your friend lives in New Jersey, local legislation may hold her responsible for the harm her dog causes if she knows her pet may bite people. State regulations may put all responsibility on the owner no matter if she or he knew about the dog’s inclination to bite. The two of you may work together to determine whether her geographic area has regulations specific to certain dog breeds deemed hazardous. 

Criminal penalties

If you suffered intense injuries from the dog bite, your friend could face serious criminal charges. That said, courts rarely hit dog owners with serious charges like murder or involuntary manslaughter after a dog maims someone. 

Consider working with a professional to learn how to cover your resulting medical bills and any other damages. You deserve fair compensation.