After the Webinar: Dog Bites and Attacks – Cases and Trends. Q&A with Claudine Wilkins

Webinar presenter Claudine Wilkins answered a number of your questions after her webinar, Dog Bites and Attacks: Cases and Trends. Here are just a few of her responses.


Audience Question: Does your state define provocation? 

Claudine Wilkins: It does not. Typically, you’ll find this in case law. And I always say, just because it says it in one case, doesn’t mean that’s the truth. So, we evolve in law, and law is liquid. So, if you can argue, for example, that petting a dog is an ordinary standard behavior that most humans do, and there’s a gray area in that, where with, as I said before, if somebody’s trying to pet your dog, and you’ve told them not to, then that’s provocation. But, if you’re simply somewhere and somebody just reach out to pet the dog, it’s a gray area. So, our state does not actually describe it in a statute, no.


Audience Question: Does homeowners’ insurance cover cases of dog bites? 

Claudine Wilkins: Typically, yes, I’m glad you brought that up. So, when we’re in a car accident, it’s our auto insurance. Homeowner’s insurance, and if you have renters liability insurance will cover dog bites. However, some insurance are figuring out the best ways to get out of these and they’ll either exclude a breed or they will exclude a dog that has a prior history. And the number one thing we have to prove as attorneys is that the dog had a prior history if we can’t show that an ordinance was violated. I know that’s convoluted, but in Georgia, our dog bite statute is such a way that we either have to show that the dog owner violated a local ordinance. And if we can’t show that, then we have to prove that the dog owner knew or should have known, their dog was going to bite someone. And that’s the very thing that some of these insurance companies will say, “Hey, we’re not going to cover you for your dog for that.” So, you have to be very careful in what the policy actually says. And in the State of New York, they have forbidden insurance companies to exclude breeds when they are insuring dogs for dog bites. So yes, it is the homeowner’s policy.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of  Dog Bites and Attacks: Cases and Trends.


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