One of the questions the dog bite lawyers at our San Antonio personal injury law firm get asked about often is whose insurance pay medical bills after a dog bite. At first impression, this question may seem like it deserves a simple answer, but once you understand how liability insurance works, you will see that the answer isn’t so easy.
First of all, the dog owner’s health insurance won’t cover a dog bite to someone other than the owner because health insurance ensures the covered individual only – in other words, it’s not liability insurance that can be used to cover someone else for the insured person’s negligence or bad acts, or for anything another person’s dog or animal does.
Because of the issues and defenses available to insurance companies and dog owners under Texas law, if you’ve been injured by a dog or other animal, you will probably need to hire an experienced injury attorney to help you with your claim if you expect to make the insurance company compensate you for medical bills, lost time from work, and permanent scarring and/or disfigurement caused by the animal attack. The laws in the state of Texas make it very difficult to get fair compensation without the assistance of an experienced injury attorney.
Most people would think that the obvious answer as to which insurance company pays medical bills is that the dog owner’s insurance should cover the medical care of a dog bite victim – and we agree. However, there are a few things that often times make this impractical, at least at first:
- Dog bites usually require immediate medical attention, and most animal attack victims don’t know the insurance information of the animal’s owner at the time treatment is needed.
- The dog’s owner may not have insurance, especially if they are just renting.
- If the dog’s owner does have homeowners or renters insurance, the insurance company will want to investigate to see if they should pay the claim or not. This does very little to help an injured person with the immediate medical attention they need after a dog bite.
- Generally, if you’ve been bitten, you’ll need immediate medical care. There isn’t time to make a claim on the dog owners insurance in time to make them pay for your ER bill. Remember, when you’re dealing with an insurance company, they will look for any reason under the sun not to have to pay – that’s how they make $billions per year. They will want to investigate, and will often take their sweet time doing so.
So What’s An Injured Person to Do?
Often, dog bite victims have limited insurance options when seeking medical care after being bitten by an animal. Generally, there are only three options available:
- The owner pays for the medical treatment himself (not very common). This involves the owner actually going to the E.R., or hospital and paying the bill for the injured person. This doesn’t happen very often unless the person injured is a family member; or
- The dog bite victim has their own health insurance, and gets treatment using their own insurance (which may have to be repaid later), or
- The dog bite victim doesn’t have insurance, and uses the emergency room (ER) to get treatment, and is billed by the hospital afterward (this option is better than not getting treatment at all, especially if you don’t know the dog’s vaccination history).
- The dog bite victim hires an attorney that has a medical treatment program (like the one Barrus Injury Lawyers has), which allows the person to get medical care, but not be billed until after their claim with the insurance company is settled. Generally, under this scenario, the injured person goes to the ER for their initial treatment right after being bitten, and the medical treatment program kicks in and helps get their remaining treatment, and negotiates the bill with the E.R. for the injured person.
So whose insurance can an injured person use if they’ve been bitten by a dog or other animal? There are really only two scenarios in which insurance will pay for a person’s injuries after an animal bite.
3 Ways Insurance Will Cover Dog Bite Injuries:
- The Victim’s Own Health Insurance,
- The Insurance of the Dog’s Owner (usually after a long drawn out claim), or
- The injured person hires an experienced dog bite lawyer (see No. 2 above).
The Victims Own Health Insurance
If you are lucky enough to have health insurance, you should use it after a dog bite so that you can get treatment quickly. There isn’t enough time after being bitten to investigate, make a claim, and convince the insurance company to pay your medical bills. If you have insurance, you should use it and get treatment soon after you are bitten.
What Should You Do if You Were Bitten by a Dog But Don’t Have Health Insurance?
Many Texans, however, don’t have health insurance. For these people, getting treatment after a dog bite may be difficult. If you’ve been bitten by a dog or other animal, and you don’t have health insurance, we recommend the following:
- Get immediate medical attention – Go to the closest E.R., state law requires that they provide emergency treatment, even if you don’t have insurance, AND
- Hire an experienced dog bite lawyer as soon after the incident as possible. An experienced dog bite attorney can 1) help you reduce the E.R. Bill, and can usually get the hospital to agree to wait until after a settlement to pay the bill, 2) Investigate and make a claim against the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy, and 3) make sure you get the ongoing medical care you need, even if you don’t have health insurance
Understanding Your Options After a Dog Bite Injury
Because of Texas laws, and the difficulties finding out who is liable for a dog bite injury, and whether or not there is insurance available to compensate dog bite victims, it’s almost always in your best interest to consult with an experienced dog bite injury attorney as soon after the incident as possible.
We help injured Texas by offering a FREE 5-Point Case Analysis that will give you important information about your case, and allow you to talk to one of our dog bite lawyers for FREE. To get started with your 5-Point Case Analysis, give us a call at (210) 910-4357, or click here.