When an accident occurs, one or more insurance policies may provide coverage. The person that caused the accident might have liability coverage. The victim might have health insurance or government health care or any other assistance. Depending on the type of insurance, these policies might be used to pay for all losses.
The insurance covered by a dog bite may include:
- Compensation for crime victims
- Liability insurance coverage
- Medical payment coverage
- Health insurance coverage
Insurance May Cover Statutory Liability & Accidents
If a dog bite was intentional, the victim’s insurance may provide coverage. In general, dog bites are 99.9% accidental so the victims and the dog owner’s insurance are available. Furthermore, government health care may be provided for both accidents and intentional injuries in some states.
Compensation For Crime Victims
If your dog bit someone the victim might qualify for government assistance in some jurisdictions. However, in Texas, a dog owner is not specifically liable for any damages caused by their dog biting someone.
A victim in a dog bite claim in Texas must show that the dog owner knew their dog was acting aggressively or had bitten someone in the past. Moreover, the dog owner failed to use reasonable care to control or prevent the dog from biting a person.
Who Does Insurance Cover?
The insurance covers all the people mentioned in the policy. The standard homeowner’s policy covers all the residents of the household that are related to the insured or are dependents under the age of 21, or pet-sitters that are not being paid. The insurance policy provides coverage if the policy provides dog inflicted injuries.
Liability Insurance Coverage
Liability insurance covers the person that is liable for the accident. However, this coverage does not apply if the owner of the dog was not responsible for the accident.
In a Texas court, strict liability may apply to dog bite claims in which the dog was known to be vicious, dangerous, or mischievous, and the dog bite resulted from the dog’s innate nature. So if the victim sustained injuries due to a dangerous dog, the victim does not have to show that the owner failed to use reasonable care or control to prevent the attack from happening. The victim can recover damages simply by showing that the dog was dangerous.
Medical Payment Coverage
Homeowners and renters insurance covers several types of damages. If you are held liable for a dog attack then you are covered. You are also covered for any type of accident that requires treatment whether or not you were liable.
Medical payment provision or guest medical provision listed in the insurance policy offers a small amount of money for accidents. You receive med pay when the insurance company has proof that there were medical bills as a result of the dog bite attack. The most common medical payment coverage fall between $1,000 and $5,000 per dog bite claim.
Your attorney will collect all of the money available from the medical payment provision insurance and will pay the victim that has a claim for medical treatment. Your attorney can resolve the claim quickly by collecting funds early in the legal process. A person however cannot receive more money than the medical payment stated in the policy.
Keep in mind that the medical payment policy is not the only money available for medical treatment in a dog bite claim. The claim will include past and future medical costs so the insurance company will end up paying for these costs, but the payment will be under the liability provision of the insurance policy.
Who Sends The Victim’s Medical Bills to The Insurance Policy?
The victim’s medical bills should not be directly sent to the dog owner’s insurance policy. The dog owner’s insurance company is obligated to pay for the victim’s medical expenses under the medical payments coverage, but the victim’s attorney should be the one to send the bills to the insurance company.
The medical payment claim must be formally made by an attorney to ensure all the bills are paid. The insurance company will only pay the limit of the medical payment coverage of $1,000 or $5,000 so all the proceedings must be strategically applied to the most pressing and important medical bills.
The attorney will determine which medical bills are the most pressing and important. These pressing and important medical bills are bills that the victim cannot afford and is in need of immediate medical care. So your attorney will be able to prioritize your medical bills to the limited amount of medical payment proceeds.
In addition, you have a legal right to be paid from the funds that come into the hands of your attorney from the injury claim.
The people that work at the doctor’s office are not authorized to send claims to the insurance company for the liable party in an injury case. This will only confuse the insurance company and may result in confusing letters to the doctor’s office and exceeding medical payment coverage that will result in no one getting paid. The doctors may feel that the victim misled them by giving them incorrect insurance information and the quality of care may actually suffer.
Property Damage Coverage
The dog owner’s insurance policy may also provide property damage coverage for the victim’s torn clothing, shoes, broken glasses, etc. This is a distinct and separate policy provision and the policy limit is $500.
Health Insurance Coverage
The victim may have some kind of health insurance coverage. There are many different health insurance plans and many people have them.
In most cases, the victim is reluctant to use their own health insurance for fear that their insurance policy will drop the case. If the coverage is under a group policy then the likelihood of the insurance policy dropping the case is not likely to happen. Furthermore, if the victim was not responsible for the dog attack then it is also not likely to be dropped by the insurance company.
When a claim is made either by the dog owner’s policy or the victim’s policy, a record of the claim is kept in the national registry that the insurance industry holds for the purpose of fraud prevention. The victim’s insurance company can find out about the attack at any time.
Is it best to use your own insurance claim because many hospitals and ambulance companies will refuse to wait for the settlement or judgment, will use bill collectors to harass the victims, and will send negative reports to credit reporting agencies. These companies do not consider themselves bound by ethical principles. The practices of these companies are unfair and unjustified.
How To Pay Your Medical Bills
To deal with creditors such as doctors, ambulance companies, and hospitals, you should ask them to “accept insurance.” This means that they will take full payment of whatever your health insurance company will pay them.
BEWARE of “full balance billing.” Health care creditors had agreed with the health insurer to give you a certain amount but they billed you for the difference instead. This is UNJUST! DO NOT agree to pay the full balance. Your attorney will negotiate with the creditors so that you are treated fairly.
Also, ask the creditors to “take a lien” on the case. This means that they will not harass you for money until the case or claim settles, and will be paid through the settlement. That way you do not have to come up with the money now and your attorney will have the chance to negotiate the amount the creditors will get and possibly reduce their bill. An experienced attorney specialized in these types of cases will fight hard to reduce the creditor’s bill so that you pay them less, and they will fight to recover the maximum compensation you deserve.
If the creditors agree they will ask you to sign a form but you should have your attorney review it before you sign it. If the provider does not have the form, they can send the form to your attorney.
You can also just pay the amount they are asking for or the amount that you had negotiated before you get reimbursed from the settlement.
If you fail to do any of these things the matter will be turned over to collections. However, there have been cases where the creditor reduces the balance to zero.