Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

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Small Law Survivor
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Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by Small Law Survivor »

In early January our dog bit an Amazon delivery man on our property. The circumstances were unusual - the dog is six years old and has never exhibited behavior like this before or after. We've taken measures to ensure this never happens again. (no, we didn't give the dog away, or worse :happy)

The delivery man's pants were ripped, and there was a small amount of blood. It appeared to be a bad scratch. We got him ice and a bandaid, and he stayed with us for about 45 minutes before he drove away.

This was followed by silence for almost eight months.

Very recently we got a communication from my insurance company (homeowners) that they received a demand letter arising out of the incident. The claim is about $600. They wanted to know if they should pay it, or if I'd prefer to pay it directly.

I decided to pay it directly, and they sent me the letter. It is from a collection agency, and states that the driver's insurance company (not Amazon) had retained the agency to collect this money. The letter says they were "retained to collect the lien for workers compensation payments paid" to the delivery man. The caption includes "lien amount at this time: $600."

I'm not sure what to make of this.There is a workers comp lien statute in Massachusetts, which appears not to apply here (it grants the workmen's compensation insurer a lien against any money recovered by the injured party in the third party action equal to the amount paid out by the insurer).

Why did the insurer assign the claim to a collection agency? Seems odd, but maybe that's standard operating procedure. I'd like to get a release, but I'm not anxious to call a collections company to try to negotiate that. And the words "at this time" suggest there could be more claims in the future - I doubt they would give me one.

I realize that independent of a workers comp settlement we could be sued by the injured worker for tort damages (pain, suffering, loss of income). Hopefully that won't happen, but if it does I'll go back to the insurer with it.

Any thoughts or observations on this situation would be appreciated.

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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by LadyGeek »

This thread is now in the Personal Finance (Not Investing) forum (insurance, legal issue with a financial component).
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runner3081
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by runner3081 »

Amazon driver may not be employed (1099) and not have worker’s compensation?

He pocketed your $600 and now the provider who cared for him wants their $600?
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by Chuck107 »

.....
Last edited by Chuck107 on Mon Oct 05, 2020 8:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by epargnant »

Seems like a modest amount. It could be he went to the doctor or an urgent care, and his medical insurance decided they weren’t going to pay for it. But they also didn’t feel like tracking you down so they immediately sent it to collections. It was probably not even the delivery guy who initiated any of this other to answer some question that the incident happened at work on private property. I know we sometimes get questionnaires from our medical insurance after an ER visit asking if the injury was due to a car accident, if it was on someone else’s property, etc.

What I’m getting at is that if it’s on behalf of the medical insurance company for a specific bill, they aren’t going to sign anything saying all damages are paid. Maybe they would say this particular medical provider’s bill from a specific date is satisfied upon payment?

For what it’s worth, I’ve dealt with a collections company once, when a hospital bill got sent to a 5-year old address even though we’d had other hospital bills in the meantime to our correct address and our phone numbers were the same... anyway the agency was a bit curt but straight forward to work with. They told us who the creditor was & as much info about the bill as they had. We paid it & never heard from them again.

In the end you’ll have to either call them up yourself to make sure you understand what’s going on, or put it back in your insurance company’s hands. I’d probably do the latter.
Clemblack
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by Clemblack »

Let your homeowner's insurance carrier handle this gentleman's claim. They will pay him, pay the WC lien, and secure an executed release in your favor. They do it all the time.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by DarkHelmetII »

My vote is to handle through insurance. My concern is that otherwise you may miss something opening yourself up to significantly greater liability.

My 2 cents.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by Watty »

Chuck107 wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 6:42 pm I would have let your insurance agency handle it, and let them have the headaches.
+1

I would be concerned that paying the $600 could somehow be seen as admitting responsibility and then they could come back with some huge claim.

By your user name it sounds like you are a lawyer, but if you were going to pay this yourself then it would be good to have a lawyer that specializes in this area of law to review the situation.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by LadyGeek »

I removed an off-topic post and reply. As a reminder, see: General Etiquette
We expect this forum to be a place where people can feel comfortable asking questions and where debates and discussions are conducted in civil tones.

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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by MikeG62 »

DarkHelmetII wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:31 pm My vote is to handle through insurance. My concern is that otherwise you may miss something opening yourself up to significantly greater liability.

My 2 cents.
Agree with this advice.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by Dick D »

I would have the insurance company pay the $600 and be done with it. Be grateful that it is not costing you more.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by jbmitt »

Watty wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:32 pm
Chuck107 wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 6:42 pm I would have let your insurance agency handle it, and let them have the headaches.
+1

I would be concerned that paying the $600 could somehow be seen as admitting responsibility and then they could come back with some huge claim.

By your user name it sounds like you are a lawyer, but if you were going to pay this yourself then it would be good to have a lawyer that specializes in this area of law to review the situation.
Let your insurance handle it. If you have medical payments (MedPay) coverage they will pay it without having to open a bodily injury (BI) claim. Any payment can impact your premium, but medical payments is no fault and favorable to a liability claim.

If they have already received correspondence from the Work Comp carrier, there is a claim in the system. You’re only being penny wise pound foolish if you try to settle it on your own. As others have said, your insurance will secure the proper release, handle the lien - which can potentially be a super lien - and have consequences of it’s own. Lastly, your insurance will have their own attorneys or outside counsel available where you don’t need to bring in your own attorney.

With this being said, in many jurisdictions a dog that has bitten, regardless of breed, is considered a dangerous dog. There are some breeds that automatically have this title. This may become an issue at your next renewal period.

Some insurers outsource all of their subrogation recovery to outside firms or collection agencies. It’s easier for them to sell everything for a few pennies on the dollar and be done with it. In this case they only had your address and not necessarily your name or insurance. Oftentimes there isn’t insurance or liability is disputed or there are long payment plans. Generally big insurers keep it in house because there is a lot of money to recover at stake, but it takes dedicated teams lots of follow up to collect on it.
Last edited by jbmitt on Tue Sep 08, 2020 8:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by jminv »

Use the homeowners insurance. It will simplify your life.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by Small Law Survivor »

Watty wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:32 pm
Chuck107 wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 6:42 pm I would have let your insurance agency handle it, and let them have the headaches.
+1

I would be concerned that paying the $600 could somehow be seen as admitting responsibility and then they could come back with some huge claim.

By your user name it sounds like you are a lawyer, but if you were going to pay this yourself then it would be good to have a lawyer that specializes in this area of law to review the situation.
Yes, I am a mostly retired intellectual property lawyer - patents, copyrights, trademarks. I know as much about worker's comp law as a baked potato. It's not on the bar exam, and it's not taught in law school, to my knowledge.

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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by LadyGeek »

I'm an engineer, not a lawyer. However, I had some experience when my Mom had an at-fault car accident several years ago. The people on the receiving end of the accident made a bunch of claims against her.

Since my Mom is elderly, I spoke to the insurance company on her behalf. The bottom line is that it's the job of the insurance company to defend you - regardless of fault. The case was assigned to a local lawyer. We followed the lawyer's instructions and let him handle it.

The result was that he negotiated several settlements, with the funds taken from her liability coverage. (Tip: Always carry liability, even if you have an old car.)

There was absolutely no cost to her. Why? Legal fees are paid from your insurance premiums.

A quick google search suggests that you should look at your policy to see if there's an exclusion for animals, i.e. dog bites. If the insurance company offered to pay, you may be covered.

So, hand everything to the insurance company and ask for legal representation.

Even if the dog bite is excluded, you still want them to handle it. As noted earlier, this could be the start of a long, legal process to get more money from you.

If they are willing to pay the demand letter, by all means let them do it. I'm sure they'll have their lawyers look at it - and they'll be representing you.

Do you have an umbrella policy? You might want to check if it can supplement your homeowners in this situation. Maybe not, but it couldn't hurt to review the policy.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by tibbitts »

I'm not an expert but I would have immediately had insurance handle this, knowing of course that I might get dropped by my insurance company, or that my premiums might suddenly be adjusted to resemble the federal budget deficit. I just see this as an open-ended situation where there is no telling how much money the OP might be on the hook for. At this point I don't know if throwing it back at the insurance company is an option or not.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by nydoc »

Let the big dogs handle it.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by TimeTheMarket »

DarkHelmetII wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:31 pm My vote is to handle through insurance. My concern is that otherwise you may miss something opening yourself up to significantly greater liability.

My 2 cents.
I love this response. I also agree to go this route. They can also play interference.

My kid was bitten by a dog at lowes this summer. Very small cut, but a bite is a bite. I verbally tore the woman who owned the dog a new one as she went out of the store. Never lost it on somebody like that in public. Actually proud of myself and I think she got off very, very easy considering.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by Lee_WSP »

jbmitt wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 8:23 pm
Some insurers outsource all of their subrogation recovery to outside firms or collection agencies. It’s easier for them to sell everything for a few pennies on the dollar and be done with it. In this case they only had your address and not necessarily your name or insurance. Oftentimes there isn’t insurance or liability is disputed or there are long payment plans. Generally big insurers keep it in house because there is a lot of money to recover at stake, but it takes dedicated teams lots of follow up to collect on it.
This sounds like what happened.

The letter is not a legal document as you may or may not know. It's just a letter demanding a dollar amount. I would not pay it. I would ask for proof of responsibility before giving the collection agency a dime. That said, this is best handled by your insurance. The delivery driver may yet come after you for pain & suffering and you don't want to give your insurer a reason to deny the claim.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by whodidntante »

123 wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 8:12 pm I'm going to have to chew on this for awhile before I comment.
This problem bites.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by TropikThunder »

Dick D wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 8:16 pm I would have the insurance company pay the $600 and be done with it. Be grateful that it is not costing you more.
+1. And if you're not "done with it" because the driver comes back for more, than it will be the insurance company's problem, not yours.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by Lee_WSP »

Are you able to talk to the adjuster from your insurance company? You never know what they think. If they're feeling like paying it out just to avoid a nuisance claim, then paying it yourself may be a way to avoid a premium bump. But if they think you aren't liable for any reason (ie worker's comp is primary), then I'd have them deny the claim and see what the collection agency says.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by rooms222 »

To be honest, the most I learned about dog bite cases is from Judge Judy-etc. Some states are strict liability, and some are not. Mass. is strict liability. The only defenses are generally trespassing or provoking the dog. This bill is for the medical on his job related injury. It doesn't go to him. He has three years to pursue any other damages against you.


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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by CZjc1330 »

Outside a dog, a book is a person's best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark to read," Mark Twain
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by RetiredArtist »

CZjc1330 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:38 am Outside a dog, a book is a person's best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark to read," Mark Twain
I thought it was Groucho Marx
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by Swansea »

You are fortunate in one regard, the bite was not reported to Animal Services/Control.
They sometimes will intervene to see if your dog should be declared a "dangerous" dog.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by vested1 »

Just a small point. I had a long term job with Ma Bell where during the first 20 years of my career I had to enter yards and houses to do repairs. All visits were scheduled and people were asked to constrain their dogs. I was bitten 5 times by dogs that were not on leashes, twice by dogs who were next to their owners when they opened the door at my knock, that then charged and bit me.

My wife had a job reading meters at the sidewalk, in town, and was bitten three times by dogs whose owners had no fences, and who attacked her from behind. She was almost mauled by a pit bull running loose but was saved by a utility worker who was close by who intervened. She avoided several bites by brandishing her hook, which was used to open meters. She was also bitten off the job when walking to her mother's mailbox less than a block from her condo.

Make no mistake we love dogs and these attacks were entirely unprovoked. We never filed a complaint on any of them, even though most drew blood, our employers refused to even talk to the dog owners after we were bit. We don't currently have a dog but have had many throughout the years. I feed biscuits to the neighbor's dogs every day.

Everyone thinks their dog won't bite, and after their dog bites someone, will say that their dog never bit anyone before. Some, in fact all of the bites my wife and I received, were accompanied by accusations from the owners that we must have provoked the attack. Neither of us ever got an apology from the owner of the dog that bit us. One owner even called my employer after her dog bit me, complaining that I had harassed her dog that had immediately charged and bit me as soon as she opened the door, ripped my pants and drew blood while she was standing there.

While it may offend some here, the dog bites I encountered stopped when I started carrying a machete on my belt. I worked in a remote rural area and the locals understood perfectly. The fact that there was other wildlife, like mountain lions, which I encountered several times helped in that regard. I never had to use that machete even though I had to unsheath it at times. Dogs are smart, and know when they should keep their distance, even if their owners think they're little angels. Of course this practice would be unacceptable in an urban area, but many of my coworkers carried less lethal protection in town. Almost all had been bitten, some seriously.

For the sake of everyone, please assume that your dog will bite, even when there is no apparent reason to do so. Dogs don't think like people, even if they're cute and wag their tail when you talk to them. Please take the appropriate measures to keep the public safe from your dog.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by Wricha »

TimeTheMarket wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:40 pm
DarkHelmetII wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:31 pm My vote is to handle through insurance. My concern is that otherwise you may miss something opening yourself up to significantly greater liability.

My 2 cents.
I love this response. I also agree to go this route. They can also play interference.

My kid was bitten by a dog at lowes this summer. Very small cut, but a bite is a bite. I verbally tore the woman who owned the dog a new one as she went out of the store. Never lost it on somebody like that in public. Actually proud of myself and I think she got off very, very easy considering.
I always wonder why people take their dog into Lowe’s is the dog short a couple of drill bits?
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by Chuck107 »

.....
Last edited by Chuck107 on Mon Oct 05, 2020 8:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by Pete3 »

Wricha wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 6:35 am
TimeTheMarket wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:40 pm
DarkHelmetII wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:31 pm My vote is to handle through insurance. My concern is that otherwise you may miss something opening yourself up to significantly greater liability.

My 2 cents.
I love this response. I also agree to go this route. They can also play interference.

My kid was bitten by a dog at lowes this summer. Very small cut, but a bite is a bite. I verbally tore the woman who owned the dog a new one as she went out of the store. Never lost it on somebody like that in public. Actually proud of myself and I think she got off very, very easy considering.
I always wonder why people take their dog into Lowe’s is the dog short a couple of drill bits?
It gives the dogs a chance to socialize and visit a new environment rather than leaving them home alone. Lowes/HD are some of the only stores (aside from pet stores) that you can bring your pets to. Crazy that anyone would take a dog who is not friendly to a Lowes though.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by afan »

I am surprised that a dog would even notice a machete attached to a belt, let alone consider it a weapon to avoid. Using it requires getting in striking distance and putting your quickness up against that of an attacking dog...

Aren't there bear sprays that let you defend yourself from 5-10 feet, don't require any fighting skill and can hold off a dog long enough to get away?
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by oldcomputerguy »

This topic is drifting into OT territory. Please try to keep comments related to the OP's situation.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by HomeStretch »

I personally would have my insurance company handle it as one never knows what additional claim will be made by the injured person.

It’s amazing that the Amazon delivery person didn’t call the police about the bite even if just to make sure the dog’s rabies shots are up-to-date. Sounds like you avoided a lot of legal hassle so far. Delivery people are generally not highly paid... consider giving him (if you see him around on the route) a nice cash holiday bonus to cover his damaged clothing and time spent seeking medical treatment.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by student »

Small Law Survivor wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 8:44 pm
Watty wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:32 pm
Chuck107 wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 6:42 pm I would have let your insurance agency handle it, and let them have the headaches.
+1

I would be concerned that paying the $600 could somehow be seen as admitting responsibility and then they could come back with some huge claim.

By your user name it sounds like you are a lawyer, but if you were going to pay this yourself then it would be good to have a lawyer that specializes in this area of law to review the situation.
Yes, I am a mostly retired intellectual property lawyer - patents, copyrights, trademarks. I know as much about worker's comp law as a baked potato. It's not on the bar exam, and it's not taught in law school, to my knowledge.

"The lawyer that represents himself has a fool for a client." :happy
lol.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by Small Law Survivor »

I'm the original poster. Thank you all for crowd sourcing this. Your responses were very helpful.

- The dog was reported - we received a visit from animal control, and the dog was quarantined on our property for 14 days.

- Massachusetts is a strict liability state. The delivery person did not provoke our dog. Why she bit this man will forever remain a mystery.

- The insurance adjuster (from PURE Ins. Co.), has been very nice and forthcoming. She basically offered me the option of paying this myself to avoid a possible premium bump. How much that would be, she couldn't say.

- Vested1 - thank your for describing your experiences. Much appreciated, and taken to heart. We live in a semi-rural area and have a long driveway. We now have a milk crate at the base of the driveway with a sign, "deliveries," so delivery people do not drive up to the house. We have an electronic fence so the dog doesn't go anywhere near the property borders. So far, this has avoided any contact between dog and man. We are being ultra cautious after this experience.

- HomeStretch - we gave the delivery man $60 cash on the spot.

- Chuck107 - good points, you never know.

- The ins. co. is still willing to pay this. The most recent correspondence from the insurance company (today) states:
While I legally can’t discuss his injuries, I can tell you that they are limited. He was seen at the hospital twice and the remainder of the invoice is for his time lost from work, which lasted until 2/5/20, so not a long period of time.

I am pleased that he has not presented us with a claim to date and I feel that once this invoice is paid, we probably won’t hear from them again. If you are uncomfortable and prefer me to take care of this, I am happy to. I just wanted to give you the option of having $0 payment on your claim. I hope this clarifies things a bit.
To summarize - the only reason I'd pay this claim directly is to avoid a premium bump of some unknown amount.

Thanks again. It's absolutely wonderful to be able to share points of view on a subject like this with so many smart and experienced people.

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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by aristotelian »

tibbitts wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:23 pm I'm not an expert but I would have immediately had insurance handle this, knowing of course that I might get dropped by my insurance company, or that my premiums might suddenly be adjusted to resemble the federal budget deficit. I just see this as an open-ended situation where there is no telling how much money the OP might be on the hook for. At this point I don't know if throwing it back at the insurance company is an option or not.
This would be my biggest concern. I would want to have a conversation with an insurance agent first to see what the implications might be. We had a similar incident where a police report was filed. They said they could take the claim but they would likely drop us and/or we would need to put down the dog. We have a difficult home to insure and obviously did not want to lose our dog.

We ended up consulting an attorney to draft a settlement so we could sleep at night without having to involve insurance. Could be more complicated in this case since OP is dealing with collection agency rather than individual.
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by bltn »

vested1 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 6:33 am Just a small point. I had a long term job with Ma Bell where during the first 20 years of my career I had to enter yards and houses to do repairs. All visits were scheduled and people were asked to constrain their dogs. I was bitten 5 times by dogs that were not on leashes, twice by dogs who were next to their owners when they opened the door at my knock, that then charged and bit me.

My wife had a job reading meters at the sidewalk, in town, and was bitten three times by dogs whose owners had no fences, and who attacked her from behind. She was almost mauled by a pit bull running loose but was saved by a utility worker who was close by who intervened. She avoided several bites by brandishing her hook, which was used to open meters. She was also bitten off the job when walking to her mother's mailbox less than a block from her condo.

Make no mistake we love dogs and these attacks were entirely unprovoked. We never filed a complaint on any of them, even though most drew blood, our employers refused to even talk to the dog owners after we were bit. We don't currently have a dog but have had many throughout the years. I feed biscuits to the neighbor's dogs every day.

Everyone thinks their dog won't bite, and after their dog bites someone, will say that their dog never bit anyone before. Some, in fact all of the bites my wife and I received, were accompanied by accusations from the owners that we must have provoked the attack. Neither of us ever got an apology from the owner of the dog that bit us. One owner even called my employer after her dog bit me, complaining that I had harassed her dog that had immediately charged and bit me as soon as she opened the door, ripped my pants and drew blood while she was standing there.

While it may offend some here, the dog bites I encountered stopped when I started carrying a machete on my belt. I worked in a remote rural area and the locals understood perfectly. The fact that there was other wildlife, like mountain lions, which I encountered several times helped in that regard. I never had to use that machete even though I had to unsheath it at times. Dogs are smart, and know when they should keep their distance, even if their owners think they're little angels. Of course this practice would be unacceptable in an urban area, but many of my coworkers carried less lethal protection in town. Almost all had been bitten, some seriously.

For the sake of everyone, please assume that your dog will bite, even when there is no apparent reason to do so. Dogs don't think like people, even if they're cute and wag their tail when you talk to them. Please take the appropriate measures to keep the public safe from your dog.
Very reasonable.

Any unrestrained dog that bites someone without provocation becomes a liability issue. And a delivery man or service man coming onto one s property is not a provocation for a dog bite.

And we are dog lovers and have had a pet dog our whole lives.
stan1
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by stan1 »

Small Law Survivor wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:38 am To summarize - the only reason I'd pay this claim directly is to avoid a premium bump of some unknown amount.
They could bump the premium or they could also cancel the policy due to a vicious dog claim. Given the choices and mitigations you've already made I'd pay the $600 and hope it doesn't happen again.
clip651
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by clip651 »

Small Law Survivor wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:38 am
- Vested1 - thank your for describing your experiences. Much appreciated, and taken to heart. We live in a semi-rural area and have a long driveway. We now have a milk crate at the base of the driveway with a sign, "deliveries," so delivery people do not drive up to the house. We have an electronic fence so the dog doesn't go anywhere near the property borders. So far, this has avoided any contact between dog and man. We are being ultra cautious after this experience.
FWIW, I wouldn't consider an electric fence ultra cautious. They can help sometimes keep a dog within certain boundaries (when working properly, e.g. no power outage, and with a dog well trained to the fence, and with a dog that doesn't see something so motivating they are willing to be shocked to get to it, etc). But they do nothing to keep people or other animals outside of the dog's area.

Your milk crate also sounds like a good step to reduce delivery people approaching the house, but some may ignore it, may not see it, may need a signature, may try to be "nice" and not leave your package out and vulnerable at the end of the driveway, or whatever. So yes, you're taking precautions, and perhaps they will be good enough. But not at all what I would call ultra cautious.

Ultra cautious would be keeping the dog securely fenced away from the front door and driveway, and only out when supervised, stuff like that. This may or may not be practical in your situation. The risk is that a second incident, even if minor in terms of injury, could be taken much more seriously by animal control, police, and/or insurance and you could lose your dog and/or have more financial liability the second time around. And of course, there is the potential risk of serious injury to a delivery person or other person approaching your property.

best wishes from a dog lover with a good fence,
cj
Lee_WSP
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by Lee_WSP »

student wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:37 am
Small Law Survivor wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 8:44 pm
Watty wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:32 pm
Chuck107 wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 6:42 pm I would have let your insurance agency handle it, and let them have the headaches.
+1

I would be concerned that paying the $600 could somehow be seen as admitting responsibility and then they could come back with some huge claim.

By your user name it sounds like you are a lawyer, but if you were going to pay this yourself then it would be good to have a lawyer that specializes in this area of law to review the situation.
Yes, I am a mostly retired intellectual property lawyer - patents, copyrights, trademarks. I know as much about worker's comp law as a baked potato. It's not on the bar exam, and it's not taught in law school, to my knowledge.

"The lawyer that represents himself has a fool for a client." :happy
lol.
That's what they drill into you in lawyer school...
Lee_WSP
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by Lee_WSP »

Small Law Survivor wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:38 am I'm the original poster. Thank you all for crowd sourcing this. Your responses were very helpful.

- The dog was reported - we received a visit from animal control, and the dog was quarantined on our property for 14 days.

- Massachusetts is a strict liability state. The delivery person did not provoke our dog. Why she bit this man will forever remain a mystery.

- The insurance adjuster (from PURE Ins. Co.), has been very nice and forthcoming. She basically offered me the option of paying this myself to avoid a possible premium bump. How much that would be, she couldn't say.

- Vested1 - thank your for describing your experiences. Much appreciated, and taken to heart. We live in a semi-rural area and have a long driveway. We now have a milk crate at the base of the driveway with a sign, "deliveries," so delivery people do not drive up to the house. We have an electronic fence so the dog doesn't go anywhere near the property borders. So far, this has avoided any contact between dog and man. We are being ultra cautious after this experience.

- HomeStretch - we gave the delivery man $60 cash on the spot.

- Chuck107 - good points, you never know.

- The ins. co. is still willing to pay this. The most recent correspondence from the insurance company (today) states:
While I legally can’t discuss his injuries, I can tell you that they are limited. He was seen at the hospital twice and the remainder of the invoice is for his time lost from work, which lasted until 2/5/20, so not a long period of time.

I am pleased that he has not presented us with a claim to date and I feel that once this invoice is paid, we probably won’t hear from them again. If you are uncomfortable and prefer me to take care of this, I am happy to. I just wanted to give you the option of having $0 payment on your claim. I hope this clarifies things a bit.
To summarize - the only reason I'd pay this claim directly is to avoid a premium bump of some unknown amount.

Thanks again. It's absolutely wonderful to be able to share points of view on a subject like this with so many smart and experienced people.

Small Law
I'd go ahead and pay it. You ca make a claim yourself for reimbursement of it turns into a claim.
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galawdawg
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by galawdawg »

clip651 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:38 am
Small Law Survivor wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:38 am
- Vested1 - thank your for describing your experiences. Much appreciated, and taken to heart. We live in a semi-rural area and have a long driveway. We now have a milk crate at the base of the driveway with a sign, "deliveries," so delivery people do not drive up to the house. We have an electronic fence so the dog doesn't go anywhere near the property borders. So far, this has avoided any contact between dog and man. We are being ultra cautious after this experience.
FWIW, I wouldn't consider an electric fence ultra cautious. They can help sometimes keep a dog within certain boundaries (when working properly, e.g. no power outage, and with a dog well trained to the fence, and with a dog that doesn't see something so motivating they are willing to be shocked to get to it, etc). But they do nothing to keep people or other animals outside of the dog's area.

Your milk crate also sounds like a good step to reduce delivery people approaching the house, but some may ignore it, may not see it, may need a signature, may try to be "nice" and not leave your package out and vulnerable at the end of the driveway, or whatever. So yes, you're taking precautions, and perhaps they will be good enough. But not at all what I would call ultra cautious.

Ultra cautious would be keeping the dog securely fenced away from the front door and driveway, and only out when supervised, stuff like that. This may or may not be practical in your situation. The risk is that a second incident, even if minor in terms of injury, could be taken much more seriously by animal control, police, and/or insurance and you could lose your dog and/or have more financial liability the second time around. And of course, there is the potential risk of serious injury to a delivery person or other person approaching your property.

best wishes from a dog lover with a good fence,
cj
I agree and I have several canine companions who live with us on our small farm in a rural area. As much as they would love to "roam free", when they are outside they are in a very large fenced area. If nothing else, I wouldn't want one of them to roam onto the road and be struck by a passing vehicle.

In your case, as I'm sure you realize, the consequences of a second dog bite incident could be severe; for the victim, for your beloved canine, and for you and your family. So I'd recommend you consider a fenced enclosure rather than an "electronic fence" (and I'm assuming that is what you meant, as opposed to an electric fence used to contain livestock). Even if you pay this bill yourself rather than having insurance cover the claim, I wouldn't be surprised if your insurance carrier required a physical fenced enclosure at renewal (assuming they don't send a non-renewal notice).

If you haven't already, I'd suggest you sign up for notification of deliveries from Amazon, UPS, FedEx and USPS. Then if you choose not to have a fenced enclosure, I'd suggest you at least keep her indoors that day until the delivery is made.

Good luck. Of course, IANYL! :wink:
Swansea
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by Swansea »

clip651 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:38 am
Small Law Survivor wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:38 am
- Vested1 - thank your for describing your experiences. Much appreciated, and taken to heart. We live in a semi-rural area and have a long driveway. We now have a milk crate at the base of the driveway with a sign, "deliveries," so delivery people do not drive up to the house. We have an electronic fence so the dog doesn't go anywhere near the property borders. So far, this has avoided any contact between dog and man. We are being ultra cautious after this experience.
FWIW, I wouldn't consider an electric fence ultra cautious. They can help sometimes keep a dog within certain boundaries (when working properly, e.g. no power outage, and with a dog well trained to the fence, and with a dog that doesn't see something so motivating they are willing to be shocked to get to it, etc). But they do nothing to keep people or other animals outside of the dog's area.

Your milk crate also sounds like a good step to reduce delivery people approaching the house, but some may ignore it, may not see it, may need a signature, may try to be "nice" and not leave your package out and vulnerable at the end of the driveway, or whatever. So yes, you're taking precautions, and perhaps they will be good enough. But not at all what I would call ultra cautious.

Ultra cautious would be keeping the dog securely fenced away from the front door and driveway, and only out when supervised, stuff like that. This may or may not be practical in your situation. The risk is that a second incident, even if minor in terms of injury, could be taken much more seriously by animal control, police, and/or insurance and you could lose your dog and/or have more financial liability the second time around. And of course, there is the potential risk of serious injury to a delivery person or other person approaching your property.

best wishes from a dog lover with a good fence,
cj
I thoroughly agree about your concerns with the invisible fence. A neighbor's dog ran through the fence going after my dog. Once the dog goes through the fence, he is often unlikely to incur another shock to re-enter the yard. When I was reviewing folks for pet adoption, the invisible fence was acceptable if and only if, the pet owner could observe the pet.
vtjon02
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by vtjon02 »

Small Law Survivor wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:38 am
To summarize - the only reason I'd pay this claim directly is to avoid a premium bump of some unknown amount.
The problem is that your insurance company already knows of the incident. So even though they may not end up paying a claim, they know you have a dog with a dog bite history. So they could still cancel/nonrenew/dramatically increase your premium at renewal.

We have 3 mix breed dogs (that we suspect have a lot of pit bull in them) and our home insurance is very expensive. We could only get coverage from a small handful of carriers. Our dogs have no history of violence since we adopted them, but unknown before. We take extreme precautions to keep them from being in a situation where something could happen.You may have an easier go of it if your dogs breed is not a restricted list, but dog bite history likely will cause you problems. Don't be tempted to not tell the full truth to insurance companies/agents in the future. Not only would it be insurance fraud, but you have a real exposure that needs to be insured.

I hope it all works out.
MarkerFM
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by MarkerFM »

OP, I know you said "any thoughts or observations" would be appreciated, but I don't understand why so many posters seem intent on giving you advice on how to raise/handle your dog when you are clearly asking for advice on the insurance claim issue.

I probably would let PURE take care of it even if it costs you a bit extra in future premiums. I'm guessing since you are with PURE that you are in an overall higher premium category and I wouldn't expect them to just drop you over this. The far bigger risk is you give the guy $600 and he comes back asking for far more. If you could get PURE to agree that they would handle the claim then, even though you have already paid something, then I would pay it myself.
clip651
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by clip651 »

Just to clarify, my comments above were indeed about invisible electronic fences, as other posters have indicated.

An electric fence (like those used to keep livestock such as cattle contained) is a different thing altogether, and isn't necessary for most dogs.

A regular fence (chain link, wood, etc) at 4-6 feet is typically sufficient. Determined dogs can jump or climb fences, but that's a separate issue and doesn't apply to all dogs.

cj
clip651
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by clip651 »

MarkerFM wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:36 pm OP, I know you said "any thoughts or observations" would be appreciated, but I don't understand why so many posters seem intent on giving you advice on how to raise/handle your dog when you are clearly asking for advice on the insurance claim issue.
Because we're trying to help OP avoid a second claim and possible loss of the dog. And because OP posted the precautions they are taking to try to avoid a second incident, so that is also part of the discussion based on participation from the OP.
Katietsu
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by Katietsu »

Wricha wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 6:35 am
TimeTheMarket wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:40 pm
DarkHelmetII wrote: Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:31 pm My vote is to handle through insurance. My concern is that otherwise you may miss something opening yourself up to significantly greater liability.

My 2 cents.
I love this response. I also agree to go this route. They can also play interference.

My kid was bitten by a dog at lowes this summer. Very small cut, but a bite is a bite. I verbally tore the woman who owned the dog a new one as she went out of the store. Never lost it on somebody like that in public. Actually proud of myself and I think she got off very, very easy considering.
I always wonder why people take their dog into Lowe’s is the dog short a couple of drill bits?

My reasons:
-Because I just came from a walk on a rail/trail and it is too hot to leave the dog in the car.
-Because it is too hot or too cold to walk outside, so I take a walk in the Lowe’s.
-Not me, but I have a family member that really does develop anxiety when leaving the dog at home.
Katietsu
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by Katietsu »

stan1 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:05 am
Small Law Survivor wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:38 am To summarize - the only reason I'd pay this claim directly is to avoid a premium bump of some unknown amount.
They could bump the premium or they could also cancel the policy due to a vicious dog claim. Given the choices and mitigations you've already made I'd pay the $600 and hope it doesn't happen again.
I agree with this. I would at least try to contact the collection agency and the workmen’s comp insurer, if there is one. It might become obvious which direction to go after you have a little more info.
stan1
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Re: Dog Bite Case (for real - and I own the dog)

Post by stan1 »

Katietsu wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 2:06 pm
stan1 wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:05 am
Small Law Survivor wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:38 am To summarize - the only reason I'd pay this claim directly is to avoid a premium bump of some unknown amount.
They could bump the premium or they could also cancel the policy due to a vicious dog claim. Given the choices and mitigations you've already made I'd pay the $600 and hope it doesn't happen again.
I agree with this. I would at least try to contact the collection agency and the workmen’s comp insurer, if there is one. It might become obvious which direction to go after you have a little more info.
I'm not sure I would poke a sleeping bear. I'd pay and hope I'd never hear back again.
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