If your dog bites or injures someone, you may risk being liable for the damages connected to the injury – everything from medical coverage and pain and suffering to lost wages. In some states you’re liable for what your pet does, no matter what. This is known as “strict liability.”
In other states, you’re only liable if you knew your dog had “vicious propensities.” This typically means you knew your dog was a biter, he’s bitten before, he’s been trained to be violent or is part of breed that can be known for being violent.
Insurance companies will cover the dog bites or similar incidents under a homeowner’s or tenant’s policy – or with a special rider or umbrella policy. But you have to check your policy to find out for sure if it’s covered. Some insurance companies now exclude various breeds of coverage and some will cancel a policy for a first incident. Recently, some states began offering Canine liability policies that tend to be all inclusive breeds.
Punitive damages can be awarded to a victim if the dog’s owner was held liable in previous bites or acted outrageously. These damages are sought to punish an owner/handler and are not covered by insurance carriers!