The other side: What to do if your dog bites another person - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

The other side: What to do if your dog bites another person

This still frame shows a dog in California just before it bites a four-year-old boy. Source: Roger Triantafilo/YouTube This still frame shows a dog in California just before it bites a four-year-old boy. Source: Roger Triantafilo/YouTube
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

While news reports often focus on what happens to dog bite victims, what do you do if you're the owner of the dog that attacked?

The Center For Disease Control (CDC) says that 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year. This fact was recently illustrated in a dog bite case caught on camera in California. In the video, a family cat saves a little boy after he is bitten by a dog.

Even though it is entertaining to see a cat chase away a dog in the video it brings up the question: what if this happens to me?

"If a dog attacks a child certainly the owner can be held legally responsible for that," said insurance expert, Ted Kinney.

However, he said insurance can cover an attack.

"Normally a homeowner's policy provides coverage if you're legally responsible, if you're legally liable," said Kinney.

Kinney said the coverage comes standard with home and renters insurance policies. But if your dog is known to authorities to have a vicious nature, or has attacked someone you could lose your insurance.

"Sometimes it comes down to making the decision whether you want to own the dog or get homeowners insurance," Kinney said.

And then there's the legal side of an attack.

"These are unfortunately all too common in our towns and in our cities," said attorney Ken Riley.

Riley said if an insurance agency doesn't cover a dog attack it could then head to court and owners could even face criminal charges.

"If they can't reach a resolution and there are permanent type injuries then there would be a lawsuit that would need to be filed," said Riley.

To be on the safe side if you know your dog might bark or nip at people make sure they're kept in a contained area.

Kinney also said some insurance companies offer a one bite rule that acts like a get out of jail free card. But after that your insurance can drop you at any time if another attack occurs,

Kinney said it's important for all homeowners and renters to thoroughly go through their insurance policy.

For more statistics and information about preventing dog bites, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/dog-bites/index.html.

Copyright 2014 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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