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Your pet’s first bite may soon cost you more.
Pet owners are generally responsible for the actions of their pets. Using a dog bite as an example, in order for an injured person to be successful in court, the current law requires the injured person to establish the identity of the dog owner, prove that the dog had a tendency to bite, and prove that the owner knew of this tendency. If the dog did not have a history of aggression or the dog owner was unaware of such behavior, then an injured party would not recover damages. The result is that a dog’s first bite generally doesn’t result in liability.
Legislation proposed in 2016 would change the liability test if it receives final approval. The proposed Animal Liability Act would not require evidence of a pet’s history of violence or the owner’s knowledge of it. The injured person would simply have to establish the identity of the pet owner and that the injuries were caused by the pet. The owner would then be liable for the associated damages. In light of this potential change, if you own a pet, we recommend that you review your home insurance policy to ensure you have adequate coverage.