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On October 12, 1955, some boys of around ten years of age were playing ball in their neighborhood.


On October 12, 1955, some boys of around ten years of age were playing ball in their neighborhood. Several times, the ball that they were playing with would go into the back yard of the neighbor’s house. The neighbors owned a boxer dog whom they had chained in their back yard. Each time that the child ran past to get the ball, the dog became excited. On about the third time that the boy ran past the dog to get the ball, the dog broke his chainand gave chase to the boy. The dog caught the boy in a neighboring property and bit him. The father of the boy filed a lawsuit against the owner of the dog.

The owner of the dog contacted their insurance company that carried their homeowners insurance to have them represent his interests at trial. When he called the insurance company, he was notified in a rude manner that he had not elected to obtain the additional dog and horse liability policy and that he was not insured for the dog bite incident. The dog owner then contacted the court and filed a motion for summary judgment requiring the insurance company to take liability for the incident and to represent the dog owner at trial.

The insurance company stated that they had offered the dog owner an additional policy that covers areas of high risk such as maintaining vicious dogs or engaging in equine management or activities. The owner of the dog stated that he did not have prior knowledge of the dog’s propensity to bite and because of that had no reason to believe that the dog could be considered vicious. He maintains that since he was not running a kennel, housing a vicious dog, or running an equine facility, the supplemental insurance policy should not apply to this situation. He contends that he owns a pet dog as part of his routine domestic life on his residential property. He contends that since this was an incident that was charged as relating to the negligent manner in which he housed his dog on his property that the insurance company should cover it under the liability portion of his homeowners policy.

The insurance company contends that the incident did not occur on the dog owner’s property and thus was not on property that they insure. The dog owner disagrees. He maintains that since the incident was initiated on his property where the boy ran past chasing the ball and then returned past the dog, the dog broke his chain. All of these incidents occurred on the insured property. The court agreed. The ruling granted the request for summary judgment on the issue of liability to the insurance company. The insurance company will be required to represent the homeowner at trial and pay any judgment within the terms of the policy.

A chain is never a good way to secure a dog. Big energetic dogs like the boxer breed, need room to run and the ability to burn off excess energy. In this case, the dog was not necessarily displaying aggression, but merely wanting to join the game with the ball. The boy running triggered the prey drive of the dog and the dog chased the boy. There is only one way for a dog to catch a person and that is with their mouths. What may be only a game to a large dog, can turn into a substantial physical injury to small child. Securing a dog behind a fence is a good way to protect other people from the dog and the dog from the general public.

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, New York dog bite attorneys can examine a case on its own merit. We are located in convenient offices throughout New York and the Metropolitan area. A New York personal injury lawyer is can determine the right course of action for you and your family whether it was your dog who bit someone, or you were the one bitten by someone else’s dog.

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