Chris Brown Sued for Dog Bite Injuries
Recently, Chris Brown was sued by his ex-housekeeper for serious injuries caused by his dog. In the lawsuit, she claims that Hades attacked her while she was putting garbage in the trash can. She stated that “he was a very large brown dog who came out of nowhere and viciously mauled, bit and attacked me.” She needed 80 stitches in her face and arms. Unbeknownst to her, Hades was permitted to roam freely on the premises. She was allegedly screaming for help but nobody came to assist her. She has also accused Chris Brown of destroying the evidence and fleeing the scene by having the dog euthanized some 600 hundred miles away. In this way , he would escape all liability. What is her recourse?
By filing the lawsuit, she will involve Brown’s homeowner insurance coverage. This type of insurance typically protects a dog owner from liability from dog bite injuries. Based on the premium, Brown will usually be covered up to some homeowners policy limits as part of the insurance policy. After those limits are reached, he could be personally liable for all excess damages awarded to the injured victim.
Generally, insurance companies like to settle the case for the policy limits in order to protect the insured. With this high profile lawsuit, it would have been prudent to settle the case to avoid bad press for the insurance company. If she could prove fraudulent activity in the dispensing of the dog to cover up his liability, she may be able to get punitive damages depending on State law. These damages would be paid by Brown personally. Homeowner insurance would not apply to punitive damages in most states. Additionally, under his homeowner policy, she may also recover medical payments coverage to assist in the payment of her medical bills.
Bear in mind with all litigation, there could be defenses or potential other reasons liability is not established. If she was his employer, then Brown’s lawyers could argue she would only be able to recover under the workers compensation statutes. Some states, however, would allow both workers compensation and an intentional tort against him if a high level of intent were shown to have caused her harm. It depends on the nuances of State law. In those cases, homeowner insurance would not apply.
Most States also provide for exceptions in cases of provocation. Brown could argue that she teased, tormented, or provoked the dog if the facts support that defense. If so, these would be defenses that would bar her from recovery in so-called “provocation” states. If these arguments are available and supported by the facts, he would have to file a summary judgement motion, asking the court to throw out the case under one of these theories.In general, these cases are governed by state law. Some states apply strict liability standards while other states apply the” one bite rule” and proceed under negligent theories. Therefore, it is imperative that you talk to an attorney who specializes in “dog bite” cases, to learn all your options in the pursuit of these cases.
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Dennis E. Sawan
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Dennis P. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Georgia
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