Disasters, Dog Bites & Day Light Savings

Disasters, Dog Bites & Day Light Savings

Welcome to the Newsletter

Rana Law Group Newsletter

In this issue:

  • Who Will Pay for the Texas Freeze and Other Disasters?
  • Dog Bites in Missouri
  • Day Light Savings This Weekend

Who Will Pay for the Texas Freeze and Other Disasters?

The last two years have been rough, not only because of COVID-19 but also because of the many natural disasters ranging from hurricanes to wildfires to devastating cold.  It is good to see people come together when we have these bad events and aid those who lost loved ones or property.  Once the dust settles and people begin the process of rebuilding, however, the question that comes to mind is how will all these losses be covered?  Certainly, insurance plays a major role, but what happens when they say no more?  According to the Insurance Council of Texas, the damages from the snowstorm last month is going to be the single largest claim event in Texas history, surpassing Hurricane Harvey.

Insurance companies are a business and, if they no longer see their service as profitable, they may decline to provide insurance coverage.  Let’s say you live in California which is prone to wildfires or Texas where the utility companies failed to winterize the electric grid or a coastal region prone to hurricanes.  The inability to get property insurance could become a reality.  When insurance no longer provides a safety net, people turn to the government for assistance.  In fact, the federal government already pledged and sent assistance to Texas for the damages caused by the snow storm.  I foresee insurance companies stepping back more often and allowing the government to assist, citing their inability to remain solvent should they pay out all these claims.  This would mean that taxpayers end up footing most of the bill for future catastrophic events.  While insurance companies have deep pockets, they are not infinite.  Hopefully, updated zoning policies and threat mitigation steps are taken in the future to limit the potential taxpayer exposure of events like these but it will be interesting to see how insurance continues to factor into future decisions.

Dog Bites in Missouri

Many of you know I love animals, especially dogs.  Unfortunately, one of the types of cases we receive calls about are dog bites.  According to the CDC, there are 4.5 million dog bites a year, with over $300,000 nonfatal visits to the emergency room.  With the uptick in adoptions during COVID-19, as well as the warmer weather, I thought it would be a good time to explain the law on dog bites in Missouri and Illinois.  Under Missouri law, a dog owner is liable for a dog bite, regardless of whether the dog was previously vicious or whether the owner knew of any vicious tendencies.  Legal defenses to a dog bite incident include the provocation of the dog and trespassing.  Illinois law is similar.

In both states, if the victim had a legal right to be where the incident took place (was invited onto the property or in a public place), he or she will defeat the trespass defense.  Provocation is taken case by case.  For instance, a child grabbing a dog’s tail could be construed as provocation but it is a weaker defense as compared to the dog bite victim instigating a bite by hitting the dog.  A more common scenario is a child walking up to a dog and the dog gets surprised and bites the child.  In that scenario, that would not be considered provocation and the dog owner will likely be liable for the child’s injuries.  The best bet is to have the dog controlled on a leash while in public or in a separate room if strangers will be over.

For a good resource on preventing dog bites, I found this article in the NY Times helpful.  The best prevention of a dog bite is supervision of the dog and, if the dog displays aggressive tendencies, seek professional help in the form of a veterinarian or behavioral expert immediately to avoid a potentially bad outcome.  Ultimately, dog bites can be unpredictable. For those situations, make sure you have insurance that covers dog bites.  Treatment for these injuries can be very expensive, especially if it involves plastic or reconstructive surgery.  Most homeowner’s policies cover dog bites, however, it is important to know the exclusions, including whether you are covered away from your property or if a specific breed (such as a pit-bull) is covered.

Day Light Savings This Weekend

This weekend, remember to “spring” forward an hour. As I reflect on all the lost time from the past year during COVID, I cannot help but feel robbed even more than usual at the loss of an hour. I wish we could spring forward this time and then eliminate daylight savings because this antiquated relic of the past needs to go. It does not serve the function for which it was instituted (to save energy during the war effort) and is dangerous because there are typically more crashes from fatigued drivers who are not used to getting up an extra hour. There has been much discussion recently about removing the change altogether. I am hopeful the lack of positive effects and the larger, negative consequences will finally eliminate daylight savings in the US. Until then, remember to set your clocks and get to bed earlier!

Paul is the only one so far to make it to Oppenheimer.  Tarun and Brittany both want to see it as well but said they may wait for it to be released on streaming after finding out it is a three-hour commitment!  Fun Fact:  Each IMAX film reel for Oppenheimer is 11 miles long and weighs 600 pounds!

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