According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.2 million motorcyclists suffered a non-fatal injury in a road accident between 2001 and 2008. While incidents with dogs were not the leading cause of these accidents, incidents involving pets are still relatively common on American roads. If you've been in a motorcycle accident as a result of somebody else's dog, learn more about your rights and how you can claim damages for personal injuries or damage to your vehicle.
Understanding leash laws
Dog owners must take responsibility for their animals. If a dog causes an accident and somebody is hurt or killed, the law may hold the animal's owner legally responsible if it becomes clear that the owner was negligent. In many cases, a lawyer will try to prove negligence if the dog was not adequately leashed.
Leash laws vary considerably from one state to another. Restrictions normally fall into one or more of six categories:
- States that require a leash, or owner control over the dog
- States that ban dogs running at large
- States that require restraint in rabies quarantine areas
- States that require leashing in parks, state grounds or wildlife reserves
- States that require a leash for female dogs on heat
- States that insist owners confine or leash dogs at night
If a dog runs into the road, or jumps at your motorcycle, it is possible that the owner was negligent if he or she broke a local leash law.
Actions to take if you hit a dog
Hitting a dog is a distressing experience, even if you don't suffer an injury, and it's not always easy to know what to do about the animal. Injured dogs can quickly become aggressive, so riders should try to calm the animal by placing a jacket or blanket over its head. Try to move the dog out of the road, and contact the owner, if possible.
If you can't contact the owner, you should call a nearby animal clinic for advice. Some clinics can send a staff member to collect the animal, but they are more likely to ask you to bring the dog in. Remember that clinics will often ask the person bringing the animal in to pay for the bill, but you shouldn't leave the animal by the roadside, either. If witnesses spot you leaving the scene of an animal collision, you could face legal action from the owner.
Claiming the cost of repairs
Comprehensive motorcycle insurance will cover the cost of damage that the animal collision caused. According to the circumstances of the accident, your insurance company may decide to try to claim the cost of these repairs from the dog owner's insurance. Your insurer may try to subrogate these costs from the owner's pet insurance or home contents insurance.
It's important to file a police report at the time of the accident. If you don't have comprehensive insurance, you will need to directly file a claim against the owner's insurance, and if he or she doesn't admit responsibility, it's often difficult to prove your case.
Claims for serious injury or wrongful death
Some dog collisions result in serious injury or death. Brain injuries, broken bones, loss of a limb, or spinal cord damage after an accident could have a devastating effect on your life. These injuries can lead to significant medical expenses, as well as loss of income, pain and distress.
As such, you may need help from a trained motorcycle attorney. The value of a lawsuit for serious injury or wrongful death will depend on a variety of factors, but a skilled attorney can make sure you get the best possible settlement.
Accidents involving dogs can damage your motorcycle, and can lead to life-changing injuries. If you hit a dog while riding your motorcycle, be sure to click here for more information on how to proceed.