If you are hurt on someone else’s property, or because of someone else’s negligence, you should be able to obtain compensation for those injuries. Sadly, that is not always the case. Senior Partner Bruce Plaxen just won an almost $87,000 verdict for a beautiful 6 year old girl from Baltimore County who was bitten by a dog that was running loose outside of her own home. It was not her dog, and she was not behaving recklessly. She was just playing outside when a dog bit her. This precious little girl was taken to Shock Trauma and ended up with 40 sutures in her leg, as well as a permanent scar.
The child was injured through no fault of her own, yet the homeowner’s insurance carrier refuses to pay out the verdict because of the breed of the dog that bit her.
What is breed exclusion?
Maryland used to have different liability laws when it came to pit bulls. Those laws were changed in 2014 when Tracey vs. Solesky was reversed. But our legislature did nothing about the insurance carriers who practice breed exclusion – the act of refusing coverage for people harmed by certain types of animals. Pit bulls are among the most commonly excluded breeds, but according to Forbes many carriers will also refuse to cover:
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Doberman Pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Great Danes
- Presa Canarios
- Siberian Huskies
- Staffordshire Terriers
Taking measures to protect yourself
If you own a dog, you should check with your own insurance carrier to ensure that your pet is covered. No one likes to think of their dog as dangerous, but a scared animal could bite, and you want to make sure that your homeowner’s insurance will cover it if the worst comes to pass. Understand that if your pet has bitten someone before, your insurance carrier may not cover that dog.
You should also take the time to train your dog to walk on a leash and to behave when around people. Make sure that you have adequate fencing to contain your dog – especially if you let your pup run around outside unsupervised. If you live in a neighborhood with dogs, teach your children not to run up to “the puppy” to pet it. Strange dogs can behave in strange ways.
Plaxen & Adler, P.A. will continue to fight for dog bite victims throughout Maryland. We will continue to fight against breed exclusion in insurance policies that protect carriers but not people. If you have questions about how the law might affect you as a dog owner or a victim, please contact us today.