Court Determines Homeowner’s Insurance Policy Covered Dog-Walking Injury

Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a case between a man injured while walking his friend’s dog and the dog owner’s insurance company. In the case, American Family Mutual Insurance v. Williams, the court determined that the injured party was not excluded from the homeowner’s insurance policy, so the insurance company was responsible to defend against the lawsuit.

The Facts of the Case

Williams was visiting his college friend, Van de Venter. When Van de Venter was getting ready to leave for work, he explained that his dog, Emma, would ring a bell by the door when she needed to go outside. He did not mention anything about walking Emma, only about letting her out.

At some point during the day, Emma rang the bell. Williams came downstairs and attached her leash to take her for a walk. As Williams was walking Emma, another dog in the neighborhood barked, attracting Emma’s attention. As Emma ran toward the other dog, she jerked the leash and Williams fell, sustaining a serious injury to his shoulder.

Williams sued the Van der Venters. The Van der Venters then looked to their homeowner’s insurance policy through American Family to help defend against the lawsuit. However, American Family declined coverage under the policy, pointing to a clause that excluded injuries caused by a dog to any of “the insured” under the policy.  American Family asked the court for a declaratory judgment that the incident was not covered under the policy.

The case made it to a federal appellate court, which held that the policy did cover Williams’ injury because Williams was not an “insured” party under the policy. The court pointed out that Williams was never in legal control of the animal and that he was not one of the named insured under the policy. As a result, American Family will be required to defend against the lawsuit or settle the case, whichever the company sees fit.

Dealing with Insurance Companies After Serious Accidents

Few accident victims fully comprehend the extent to which they will have to deal with insurance companies after being involved in a serious accident. While insurance companies are supposed to reimburse injured parties who have undergone serious injuries and expenses, the reality is that these companies often try to escape liability through any means necessary. Therefore, anyone considering a personal injury lawsuit should consult with a dedicated personal injury attorney prior to filing a lawsuit.

Have You Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Depending on the facts of the case, you may be entitled to compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and any pain and suffering you have endured. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated Washington, D.C. personal injury attorney. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation on your part unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

Premises Liability Case Dismissed for Plaintiff’s Failure to Prove Defendant’s Knowledge of Dangerous Condition, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, August 16, 2016

Statute of Repose Bars Medical Malpractice Plaintiff’s Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, August 2, 2016

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