Visitor Question

Dog bites neighbor…

Submitted By: Anonymous (WA)

Our neighbor came up to our fence late one night and started yelling at our dog, who was at our fence. He was barking and the guy got his fingers scratched. He then came to the door wanting our dogs to meet in neutral territory, since he was new to the area.

We took our dog over on a leash for him to meet the neighbor about three weeks later. Instead of letting the dog get used to him, he got down in his face. I think that put our dog in defense mode, remembering what he did to him at the fence. He jumped at him and the neighbor ended up with a scratch on his face that was fixed by “superglue” at the doctor’s (because the ambulance basically told him to drive himself).

We had told him we would cover his medical, but now he has a lawyer and wants us to send it to our homeowner’s insurance. Even the cop who came to the house just kind of laughed at the situation.

Do we have to send this to our homeowner’s insurance, or can we write our own letter back requesting to see what the neighbor wants to settle for before sending to our insurance? Our deductible is $1000 and I want to know how much they are wanting ahead of time. Any other information you can give would be appreciated. Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

You can be confident your neighbor’s attorney wants you to refer the matter to your homeowners insurance company.

The attorney would much rather deal with the insurance company than you.

This is because your homeowner’s policy will likely cover the neighbor’s medical bills (albeit a small amount), any out of pocket expenses (for items such as medications, the ambulance bill, bandages, etc.), lost wages (if any), and pay an amount for his pain and suffering.

Insurance company claims adjusters are used to dealing with attorneys, and in most cases would rather settle a case for nuisance value.

In the alternative, there is nothing wrong with your contacting the attorney and telling the neighbor’s attorney and saying you don’t feel completely responsible for the injuries to his or her client.

When it comes to personal injury claims, the State of Washington follows the Pure Comparative Fault Rule. This rule allows a victim to recover compensation from another party even if the victim is 99 percent at fault – the amount of compensation will be reduced by the damaged party’s degree of fault.

As a result, under the Washington’s Pure Comparative Fault Rule, your neighbor is only entitled to compensation based on his comparative negligence.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: May 31, 2016

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