Michigan Dog Bite Attacks and Homeowner’s Insurance
A major issue I’ve noticed over the past few years in accepting and litigating Michigan dog bite claims and Michigan dog bite attacks is the lack of homeowner’s insurance by many dog owners.
Under Michigan law, a dog owner is statutory liable for a dog bite attack done by their dog. Unless the dog was provoked by the dog bite accident victim, which is rare, the dog owner is liable. These claims are almost always covered under a homeowner’s policy.
However, a funny thing happened during the financial crisis Michigan experienced over the past 10 years. Homeowners stopped paying for homeowner’s insurance. Some stopped because they were already underwater on their home or about to get foreclosed upon.
Others stopped paying because the mortgage servicer only required dwelling insurance or fire loss insurance on the home, not personal liability insurance. Why pay insurance if you don’t have to, right?
However, this financial reality has led to a host of problems in litigating dog bite accidents. Without homeowner’s insurance, the dog owner is left unprotected. There is no insurance company to defend and indemnify (or pay) the claim on the dog owner’s behalf. As a result, the dog own can be sued personally with the results becoming quite unsettling – personal judgments filed in court that attach to the dog owner’s permanent record.
Our firm’s team of Michigan dog bite lawyers has experienced in increase in unprotected dog owners and homeowners at fault for causing personal injury. Although the economy has improved slowly over the past few years, the problem has only gotten worse. I personally wonder if this problem will abate any time soon. In my opinion, probably not. I believe this will be an ongoing issue for years to come.