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Who is responsible for paying damages after an animal bite?

Millions of people suffer from animal bites each year. Many of these require medical treatment, while some even require surgical intervention. When an animal bite occurs and causes serious harm to an individual here in Rhode Island, who exactly is responsible for paying for the losses related to the bite?

One may assume that it is the animal owner that coughs up the cash. However, this is not always true. In many cases, an insurance company is going to be the one to compensate a victim for the harm caused. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute says that there were more than 16,000 homeowner's insurance claims in 2012 that involved dog bites.

While homeowners insurance is probably the most common way for victims to receive compensation for an animal bite, some types of animals may be restricted and not covered. In other cases, the insurance company may require that the bite occur on the homeowner's property in order for the company to pay out. Sometimes, the insurance company may only pay for the first occurrence and deny claims for repeat incidents.

In other cases, animal or pet insurance may cover any expenses related to the animal bite. As with the homeowners insurance, there are likely certain stipulations that must be met. When an animal owner does not have adequate homeowners or pet insurance that will cover the damages associated with a bite, the victim has the right to pursue a lawsuit against the animal owner in Rhode Island civil court in an attempt to recover necessary damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages.

Source: FindLaw, "Animal Bites: Who Pays Damages?", Accessed on Feb. 24, 2016

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