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Dog Attacks

Every Tuesday morning, a group of San Diego cyclists gather at Fiesta Island for an hour long pace line workout. The Tuesday morning workout helps those of us at the front practice our pace line rotations. We get to gauge our efforts while rotating through at a decent tempo. It’s a great way to get a hard hour of riding in before heading to work.

Most days go off without a hitch. As the pace ramps up with each lap, the effort becomes more intense, and the ride gets harder. The tempo generally rises with each lap. It can get to the point where people pull out of the pace line. I even have to recover for a couple of rotations depending on the day.

The ride even has a sprint at the end of the final lap. I have never featured in sprint however, as sprinting is far from my strong suit. Unfortunately, we recently had a mishap. It could have happened anywhere. A dog ran into the group causing three riders to go down.

Responsibility

This made me wonder about the responsibility of the dog owner. Mike was unfortunately was one of the riders to fall. So I asked him where the fault lies when a bike crash is caused by a dog. Here is his response:

If you own a dog and it bites someone, you are strictly liable and responsible for any injuries or damages that arise from the bite. 

If you let your dog off a leash, and it causes injuries to someone, you are liable for any injuries or consequences of the dog being off the leash if you were negligent. 

Generally speaking, letting your dog off a leash is going to be considered negligent. This is because there are very limited areas in California and San Diego were dogs are allowed to be off their leash. Therefore, if a dog is off a leash and causes injury to someone such as the tragic circumstances you had to witness this morning, that dog owner is liable for any and all injuries, property damage, medical bills, lost wages, etc. 

The biggest question in determining whether such a case is viable is going to depend upon whether the dog owner has insurance to cover them for the dog being off the leash. Sometimes, homeowner’s insurance covers someone for those types of incidents but I have never seen any specific language in a policy that addressed this.

Proper Insurance Coverage

Looks like another case of being sure you have the proper insurance coverage. This is a point I’ve mentioned a few times. Clearly, riding on roads with cars is risky. Riders need to be sure they are covered should they be part of a car accident. There are many ways to be involved in an accident with a car, from being outright hit, clipped, or catching a door while riding. In all of these cases, riders need to be sure they have enough coverage to compensate for any medical bills, property damage, or lost wages. 

Whether you’ve had a crash due to a dog off a leash or you’ve had an accident with a car, you can never have too much insurance coverage. I guess I’m getting older. My concern with insurance coverage is nearly validated every time I ride. I need know I’m covered should I need to make a claim. Stay safe out there, and as always, keep the rubber side down!