The Case Against the California Canine: Insurance Policy Revisions on the Rise

dog bites, insurance coverage, San Jose personal injury attorneyEvery five years, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) releases the U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook ranking the top/lowest ten states sharing a home with a pet, most often domesticated canines. As per the 2013 AVMA report, California ranked among the lowest ten states proclaiming pet ownership. It was reported that 52.9 percent of the California population shared their home with a domesticated pet but no matter where state rankings stand, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that approximately 4.5 million dog bites still occur every year across the United States.

Statistically, the complexities of pet ownership run even deeper than just welcoming your four-legged friend into the family fold. The Insurance Information Institute reported that in 2014, California residents reported 1,867 dog-related injury claims with an average cost of $33,649 per claim. It is understandable that dog-bite injuries can become a household’s largest liability and often leading to intricate legalities and lawsuits. It is often riskier for those who rent in comparison to homeowners who are minimally covered under their homeowner’s insurance policy. 

The costs associated with a dog bite claim have skyrocketed, so much so that in 2013, Farmers Insurance of California placed breed restrictions within their coverage often turning away business or denying a claim if a homeowner owned one of the following breeds: 

  • Akitas
  • Alaskan Malamutes
  • Chows
  • Dobermans
  • German Shepherds
  • Siberian Huskies
  • Staffordshire Terriers

To further expand their domesticated pet restrictions, Farmers, the ninth leading U.S. insurance underwriter, declared that it would also cease coverage and deny claims of incidents involving Pit Bulls, Rottweilers or Wolf hybrids.

These changes, bringing forth a degree of dog breed discrimination may have arisen from one of California’s largest dog liability insurance judgments on record. In 2001, Diane Whipple, 33 was fatally mauled in a hallway outside of her San Francisco home by a 140-pound Presa Canario. One of the dog’s owners was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter while the other received a second degree murder conviction. Whipple’s partner was later awarded $1.5 million dollars in damages.

If you have fallen victim to a dog bite injury at a private residence, contact a skilled and experienced San Jose personal injury attorney. Our team understands how important it is for you to receive the compensation you deserve and will work hard to protect your rights throughout the process. Call 408-286-2300 to schedule your free, confidential consultation today. 



Janoff Law,
A Professional Corporation
1570 The Alameda, Suite 221, San Jose, CA 95126 408-286-2300
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