24 Jun My dog bit someone, am I responsible?
Summer is the season of puppies! Kids are out from school, so many families choose the summer as the time to welcome the newest member of their family. But a dog’s teeth are the sharpest when they are puppies. And just like a child, it takes them a while to learn and adjust to their new environment. Add that in with the fact that everyone wants to stop and pet a puppy, and you’ve got a perfect situation for a dog bite to occur.
My dog would never bite anyone!
We never want to think our dog will bite. But even a playful nip can turn into a large cut. The CDC estimates that about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. And for children, most dog bites seem to occur for those 5 to 9 years old. But that’s just the statistics.
The fact of the matter is, dogs have a mind of their own. When they are playing or feeling under duress or trying to protect their family, dogs may, and often will, bite.
So if my dog bites someone, am I responsible?
Well, it depends. In Massachusetts, dog bite law states that if a dog causes injury or damage, the owner is responsible. But there may be exceptions, like if the dog bite was a result of someone trespassing, teasing, tormenting or abusing the dog.
Ok, how do I protect myself?
The first thing you should do when you take home a new puppy is to enroll them in obedience training. Make sure you socialize your dog so they don’t fear visitors, but also be sure to teach them commands to sit, stay, etc. so they know to listen and obey. Getting your puppy on a routine is a great way to establish house training. And don’t forget to get your dog license with your town and find a great vet who can care for your pup and advise you as he grows.
At the same time, call your insurance agent. Some insurance companies have restrictions on various breeds of dogs, and some with review them on a case-by-case basis, depending on the individual dog. Your insurance agent will review this with you and advise you on increasing your liability insurance limits on your homeowners or renters policy, as well as suggest an umbrella policy to give you added protection.
We live in a very litigious society, so getting the proper coverage in force today can help protect you should a claim happen tomorrow. Call us as soon as you bring your furry friend home and we’ll dog-walk you through everything you need to know! Happy Tails!