Dogs remain some of the most popular companion animals or pets in the United States. Countless households have a canine companion who provides emotional support, security or even entertainment for children.

Unfortunately, while dogs are mostly domesticated, they are animals. Their behavior can become unpredictable or erratic, and they can attack or injure humans, potentially with devastating consequences. Depending on the circumstances, the victim of a dog bite attack or the parents of a child attacked by a dog have several options for compensation.

Know what issues limit your legal rights

Every state has its own approach to dog bite liability, but there are certain rules that most courts accept. For example, a dog isn’t necessarily dangerous or vicious just because it defends itself. If a human engages in abusive or aggressive behavior toward the dog prior to the bite, they may have provoked the attack and may not have any claim to compensation.

Similarly, if the human who got bit was breaking the law at the time that the dog bit them, possibly by trespassing on someone else’s property, they will likely have fewer options, if any, for pursuing compensation for the injuries they suffer.

Dog bites are often premises liability claims

Both homeowners and businesses have liability when other people come onto their properties. This liability for potential injuries is known as premises liability. Dog bite attacks that occur on private property may fall under premises liability law.

That could mean that a business’ premises liability policy covers any injuries suffered by the victim by a dog bite at the company’s facility. For attacks at someone’s home, a homeowners insurance policy may cover the costs in some cases.

However, it is common for these policies to have limitations, including no coverage extended for a dog with a history of aggressive behavior or if the owner has a breed prohibited in the terms of their policy. In those scenarios, instead of a premises liability claim, the victim may need to bring a personal injury claim.

When insurance won’t cover the costs associated with a dog bite attack, a lawsuit against the dog’s owner may become the only option. Whether the dog bit you because it was running unleashed on public streets or because it jumped over an inadequate fence, you may have the right to take action against the owner for medical costs, including both physical and mental health care that you require to fully recover from the attack.