Some homeowners policies may put limits on coverage for dog bite claims

According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bite claims account for more than a third of all homeowners insurance liability claims. In 2011, insurers paid out approximately $479 million on these claims, an increase of 16 percent from the previous year.

When a dog bites someone, it is only fair that the victim receive compensation for his or her injuries. Normally, the dog owner's home insurance policy covers expenses related to bite claims. The costs are not insubstantial: according to the Insurance Information Institute, the average dog bite claim payout in 2011 was $29,396. Yet, some insurers are increasingly trying to exclude dog bite coverage from their policies, making it especially important for victims to retain a dog bite lawyer in order to secure the full compensation they deserve.

Beware of insurers that exclude certain breeds

Different insurers handle dog bite liability in different ways. Some home insurance companies have lists of breeds that they either will not insure, or will charge higher premiums for. Although there is no industry-wide list of "dangerous" breeds, some of the most common breeds that are highly scrutinized by insurers include pit bulls, rottweilers, chow chows, German shepherds, Siberian huskies, Alaskan malamutes, Doberman pinschers, boxers and great Danes.

Insurance companies call it managing their risk; yet, many canine and animal rights groups vocally oppose insurance practices that they view as breed discrimination. Some states even prohibit insurers from canceling or denying coverage to owners of specific breeds.

Not every insurer looks only at the breed of a dog, however. State Farm, for instance, takes a more nuanced, individualized approach. State Farm will provide liability coverage for any breed, but does ask whether the dog has ever bitten anyone or if it has been trained for attack purposes. Even if a dog has previously bitten someone, it does not mean an automatic denial of coverage for State Farm; instead, factors like the seriousness of the injury, whether the attack was provoked or unprovoked, and the precautions taken to prevent another bite will be considered to determine if it is likely to happen again.

Homeowners should be very leery of any insurer that attaches an exclusion for the dog to a homeowners policy or that requires dog owners to sign a liability waiver. Without liability coverage, a dog owner may be held personally responsible to pay for any medical bills or lawsuits that result from the actions of his or her dog.

A dog bite lawyer can help you get full compensation for injuries

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that dogs bite 4.7 million Americans every year; almost half of dog bite victims are children. If you've been injured by a dog, or if your child has been bitten, you are entitled to full and fair compensation.

Given that insurers are taking steps to reduce their exposure to dog bite liability, it is especially important for dog bite victims to retain an experienced attorney. A dog bite lawyer will be able to craft strong legal arguments to force insurers to pay the full amount of their obligation, and will pursue other sources of compensation when necessary. If a serious dog bite has impacted your life, talk to a dog bite lawyer today and get the compensation you deserve.