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Dog attack victim gets another bite at insurance coverage

As we noted in our Dog Law feature last year, finding insurance to cover damage from unruly canines can be a tough assignment. In the twisting tale of Pauline Dabney’s dog bite claim, the Supreme Court of Virginia opened a door Tuesday.

Dabney was attacked and injured by two dogs in 2002. With help from friends, Dabney struggled for months to find applicable insurance coverage and submit a claim. Despite her effort, the trial judge ruled her more-than-eight-month delay in providing notice was not reasonable as a matter of law.

The Supreme Court now reverses that holding, finding extenuating circumstances that could lead a jury to find the notice of claim was given “as soon as practicable.” Among those circumstances was the death of the dog owner and the insurance company moving without giving notice of its new address.

Dabney gets a new trial on the issue of the timeliness of her notice, with a stipulated $78,000 claim riding on the verdict.

By Peter Vieth

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