Will my car insurance cover me when the dogs escape from my parked truck and bites someone?

November 2, 2015 8:57 pm Published by

State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Grisham, 18 Cal. Rptr. 3d 809 (2004)

Will my car insurance cover me when the dogs escape from my parked truck and bites someone?

Generally no.

SUMMARY OF FACTS

Defendant was driving his truck with a camper shell. Inside he had two dogs. He parked his truck and left the dogs inside. The truck had been parked about 30 minutes to 2 hours. The dogs escaped through a side window. They saw plaintiff and ran towards plaintiff. Plaintiff was about 20 to 25 yards away. When they reached plaintiff one of the dogs bit plaintiff.

COURT’S RULING

The court determined that the policy did not cover the incident, because it did not arise from operation of the truck. The court distinguished this case from other similar cases. First there was Hartford Accident & Indem. Co. v. Civil Service Employees Ins. Co. (1973) 33 Cal.App.3d 26, 108 Cal.Rptr. 737 (1973). Where a dog that had been in the back seat of a car jumped to the front seat and bit a passenger. The dog and the passenger were starting to get out of the car. The court saw loading and unloading as use of the vehicle. In this case the dogs were loose and already out of the car.
In another out of state case a dog jumped out of an open car window and immediately ran into a passing motorbicyclist, injuring the cyclist. The court explained that coverage attaches when the injury is caused when the vehicle is being operated, moved, maintained, loaded or unloaded. In this case the biting did not result from or in the course of the truck being operated, moved, maintained, loaded or unloaded. Plaintiff was biten 20 to 25 yards from the truck, and that was well beyond any unloading zone or activity.

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This post was written by Orange Dog Bite Attorney

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