We all know someone who was bitten by a dog. That is not surprising as it is a very common situation. Over 50 percent of US households have a pet dog, so the odds of this are great.
DID YOU KNOW THAT APPROXIMATELY 4.5 MILLION DOG BITES OCCUR EVERY YEAR IN THE US?
While the final statistics are not in, it appears that there was a surge in such attacks in 2020, and most relate that to the fact that many people stayed at home more often.
The Medical Cost of a Dog Bite
While most dog bites result in minor injuries, may result in serious injury and death. One in five dog bites become infected due to the bacteria in the dog’s mouth. Any time there is a break in the skin, this must be carefully monitored. Dog bites can lead to serious scarring. In 2018 nearly 27,000 people underwent remonstrate surgery because of a dog bite. The average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay was over $18,000, which is much higher than the average injury-related hospital stay. It is estimated that the cost of dog bite treatment exceeds $2 billion a year. In 2020 alone, homeowners’ insurers paid out close to 1 billion in liability claims.
Every day over 1,000 people are treated in hospital emergency departments for non-fatal dog bite-related injuries. Between 2005 and 2020 dogs killed 586 Americans. Thus, this is a very serious problem in America today.
Homeowners Insurance Policies Pertaining to Dog Bite Accidents
Dog Bites from certain breeds result in more severe injuries, and because of this many insurance companies will not cover those breeds. If you have a homeowner or renters’ policy and own a dog, you need to make sure you have coverage for an injury caused by your dog. Many policies exclude all dog bite incidents, and many limit the coverage for these incidents. Please contact your agent, and make sure you have sufficient coverage in case someone is injured by your dog.
Over 70% of all dog bites occur because the dog is not neutered. (ASPCA pro)
The law in Florida concerning injuries by dogs is governed by Florida Statute 767.04. This statute saw that a dog owner is liable for injuries if their dog bites another person and that person is in a public place or lawfully in a private place. This statute only covers dog bite injuries. If your dog injures a person in another way, i.e., knocking them over or chasing on the bike, you can be liable for common law negligence, or failure to use reasonable care in handling your dog.
Florida is a “strict liability” state on this issue. While some states have a “one free bite” law, in Florida a dog owner is liable even if the owner had no prior knowledge or warning that the dog might bite. A Florida dog owner has 3 defenses to a dog bite claim.
- First, if the victim is a trespasser or unlawfully on the property where the incident occurred, then the owner is not liable. The defense of comparative negligence may apply. If the victim somehow was at fault and this led to the bite, then the recovery may be set off by a percentage of his or her negligence. A common example of this is a situation where a person aggravates or provokes the animal. In such a situation, the owner has a comparative negligence defense.
- Another defense is the posting of a “bad dog ‘sign prominently on the property. To use this defense, the sign must be large, easily readable, and in a prominent place on the property. This defense will not protect the owner if the victim is under 6 years old.
The victim of a dog bite may recover all damages allowed under Florida law, including past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, and past and future pain and suffering. These incidents often result in severe injury.
If you have been the victim of a dog bite, you need to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer, who is an expert in Florida law. While some situations may be strict liability, the law is complex, and finding a source of recovery may be difficult.
Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.
If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.