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Mike Myers
Mike Myers
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Dog Bites, Third Party Claims and (Potential) "Pay to Play" Rules for Insurance Companies

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We recently spoke with a potetial client about a dog bite he suffered while on the job. Here are some of the basic things you should know if you’re bitten by a dog (or attacked by any type of domestic animal) while working for your employer.

In order to pursue the homeowner/dogowner you need to submit a Third Party Election with the Department of Labor and Industries. We can help you complete and file it. (It allows you to pursue the claim rather than relying on the Department (which is really just interested in recovering the medical and time loss it paid.)

Next, suit needs to be filed against the homeowner/dogowner. Unless there is a specific exception (e.g., for breed of dog) the homeowner’s policy will cover your claim (and there is typically $300,000 in coverage (minimum) available).

Despite the fact Washington has a strict liability statute, the insurance company is not going to roll over (too hard to pass up). In the last dog bite case we tried our client recovered approximately 20 times the insurance company’s best offer.

In light of the fact that there is a strict liability statute, do you think it’s fair for the insurance company to dictate what it offers the injured person or do you think there should be a schedule or formula that sets the minimum amount insurers can offer?

In the alternative, do you think there should be a law that requires insurers to pay the attorney fees and costs an injured person incurs if he or she recovers more at trial than the insurance company offers?