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P.I. Pulse: A Major Award and a Not-So-Dog-Friendly Insurance Change

 

In this blog, we’re going to provide some information on two pieces of recent personal injury-related news: one concerns a major award in a lawsuit against a major company, and the other concerns an adjustment that a major insurance company is making to its homeowners insurance policies—and the change might include your best friend!

Let’s start with the jury award. The case in question revolves around a girl who, in 2003 at 7-years-old, had a headache and so her parents gave her Children’s Motrin. Instead of remedying the headache, the Children’s Motrin made it worse. The young girl wound up in the hospital for months; she was forced to undergo surgery multiple times and developed a flesh-eating disease that caused her to lose almost all of her skin. Additionally, because of the traumatizing and debilitating episode, the girl, who is now 16-years-old, is legally blind and lives with permanent damage to her liver and lungs. So, what happened? Well, apparently the popular drug that the girl took can cause the rare but incredibly damaging “toxic epidermal necrolysis,” or “TEN,” for short. This is a disease that eats away at a person’s skin—and it did just that to this little girl.

The jury took the side of the plaintiffs and issued a verdict against Johnson and Johnson, the company from which Motrin comes from. They awarded $63 million to the plaintiffs in the form of $50 million to the victim and $13 million to her parents. Additionally, when interest is considered, the total payout could amount to a total of $109 million.

Now we’ll move from jury award to a change in a major insurance company’s homeowner’s insurance policies. People buy homeowner’s insurance for a variety of reasons, but primarily to protect objects within the house should they be damaged, stolen, etc. However, a considerable portion of the insurance premiums goes to cover something else—something that can be far more costly: types of premises liability. This liability coverage protects the homeowners if someone, for example, falls and hurts themselves on the homeowner’s property, is bitten by a dog on their property, etc. Now, there is going to be a change to the latter for many homeowners.

Farmers Insurance Group has announced that its policies will no longer cover liability resulting from dog bites for breeds including pit bulls, Rottweilers and wolf hybrids. Typically, these dogs are considered among the most aggressive. Farmers Insurance said that roughly 25% of all dog bites involve these breeds, and when these types of dogs do bite, they tend to cause more damage than other dogs do. Thus, they pose a higher risk—both to people entering the house in which there is one of these dogs, and to the insurance company that provides coverage to the homeowners of the house in which there is one of these dogs.

While current policies won’t be canceled, new ones won’t be issued that cover these breeds. That means that in the future, unless you have an insurance policy that specifically covers these types of incidents (and you won’t find them with Farmers Insurance), you will be responsible for any claims relating to a dog bite in which your dog is involved.

If you have any questions relating to the aforementioned award or insurance policy change, please contact us for a free consultation at 561-266-9191 or daronberg@aronberglaw.com.

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