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Liability and Insurance to Consider with Dog Walking Apps

Many dog owners in Washington rely on mobile apps such as Wag! or Rover to help care for their animals. Using these services, owners can hire trusted strangers to come to their homes and walk their dogs while they’re at work, out of town, or otherwise preoccupied.

While in the care of other people, it is entirely possible for a dog to bite someone. The animal may attack a stranger, another person in the household, or even the dog walker himself or herself. In these situations, you might wonder who would be liable for the bite. 

It is important to understand the legalities behind these apps—and to invest in liability insurance if you choose to use them.

Who Is Liable for a Dog Bite in Washington?

When it comes to dog bites, Washington is a strict liability state. This means that a dog owner is liable for any dog bite injuries that a person suffers, as long as the victim was lawfully on private property or in or on a public place at the time of the incident. 

The victim does not have to prove the owner’s negligence in order to file a claim against him or her. The victim will simply need to prove that he or she had a legal right to be where the attack occurred and did not provoke the animal.

If a dog walker is bitten by an animal while out walking it, he or she could pursue a claim against the owner. Depending on the situation, the walker could be entitled to file an insurance claim or a lawsuit.

Could a Dog Walker Be Liable for a Bite?

When a dog bites someone while in the care of a person other than the owner, this rule still applies. This means that a dog owner would likely be liable if his or her animal bites someone while being walked by a professional dog walker.

One exception to the rule is if the dog walker’s actions are at least partially responsible for the bite. If the dog walker’s negligence caused the bite to occur, the victim could pursue a lawsuit against the owner and the walker. 

Invest in Dog Bite Insurance Coverage

Dog walking apps do not generally provide insurance coverage for their dog walkers. These individuals are considered independent contractors and therefore are responsible for providing their own dog bite coverage.

Dog bite insurance is very important if you own or work with one of these animals. This coverage can help pay for the damages of other people and may also be able to pay for your own damages if you are bitten by a dog that you own or are walking. 

If you use dog walking services regularly, it is important to ensure that your coverage will pay for situations where someone else is walking your dog and causes or suffers injuries. Evaluate your current coverage carefully and make sure to purchase additional insurance as needed.

If you are bitten by a dog in Washington, you may be eligible for financial compensation through an insurance claim or lawsuit. In these situations, it is important to consult with a Washington dog bite lawyer. As soon as possible following the incident, contact an attorney to discuss your legal options and identify your best path forward.