Dog Bite Liability in Florida

The Insurance Information Institute has reported that dog bite claims have made up more than a third of all homeowners insurance claims. That comes to about 15,000 claims a year. The average cost per claim was over $29,000 as of 2011. Most homeowners insurance policies cover dog bite liability and will pay for the coverage of any injury a policy holder’s dog may cause. Most of these policies cover between $100,000 and $300,000 worth of coverage. If a claim goes over whatever limit is set by the insurance company, the rest of the cost must come out of the dog owner’s pocket. Payment is also usually provided for no-fault medical coverage, which pays between about $1,000 and $5,000 towards the medical costs of the victim.

The Florida statute for dog bites finds the owner of the dog that did the biting responsible for the actions of the animal. Any compensation or coverage that is to be provided to the victim must come from the dog owner’s own pocket or insurance company. The dog does not need to have a vicious past, nor does the owner have to know that the dog was going to be vicious. Any incident of a dog biting someone who was on the premises legally finds the owner at fault. A person is legally on property if they have been invited in any way onto the owner’s property and if they are there on legal grounds. The only exception to this is if the owner has a clearly visible sign, such as one that reads “Bad Dog.” This exception does not apply if the person who was bitten was under the age of six, or if the incident was caused by obvious negligence of the owner.

A few other cases in which an owner is not held responsible can exist, but only under special circumstances. For example, the owner is not typically held responsible if the dog bit a veterinarian during a visit, or if the dog bit someone while aiding a police or military official. In some states, trespassers or those who were bitten after provoking the animal are liable instead of the dog’s owner. In any case, one dog bite lawsuit can cost up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, medical expenses and time missed from work. These can be compensated for, along with damages for pain and suffering, by filing a personal injury lawsuit with the help of an experienced attorney. If you or a loved one has been bitten or attacked by a dog, call Nick Ortiz at 850-898-9904 to discuss your claim.

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