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Going The Extra Miles

Florida Dog Bite Lawyer Brad Sinclair
Melbourne, Palm Bay, Cocoa, Viera, Titusville, and Brevard County

 

Florida is a strict liability state. By state law, a dog owner is strictly liable when their dog bites someone. Some other states have what is known as the one bite rule, which does not impose liability upon the dog owner until after they are aware the dog has bitten someone in the past. While Florida’s strict liability statute holds the dog owner responsible, finding adequate insurance coverage to compensate for the damages the animal caused may be more challenging.

Homeowner insurance companies are well aware of the financial exposure caused by dog bites. The average dog bite cost nationwide has been steadily increasing over the years, while the number of dog bites has actually been decreasing. Homeowner insurance companies are constantly looking for ways to reduce their claims exposure. Many are issuing policies with specific exclusions for injuries caused by dog bites. A policy containing a dog bite exclusion would give the owner no coverage for any damages caused by a dog they own, regardless of the breed. Other companies write specific exclusions for certain types of breeds, for instance, they may insure a lab, but not a pit bull. The owner remains liable for the injuries and damages caused by their dog, regardless of whether it may be covered by their homeowner’s insurance policy. Unfortunately, not many dog owners have sufficient assets to pay damages caused by their dog in the absence of adequate homeowner’s insurance coverage. If there is no insurance available, or inadequate insurance, Sinclair Law Offices will discuss conducting an assets investigation on the dog’s owner to determine their ability to pay any damage award.

A typical Florida homeowner’s policy includes at least $100,000 in bodily injury coverage. This may be sufficient to cover the injuries and damages suffered in many dog bite cases. In more serious cases, it must be determined whether the homeowner also carried an umbrella policy providing an additional higher level of coverage. In those cases where it there is homeowner’s insurance coverage, the typical Florida policy would will also have medical payments coverage to help pay medical expenses.

When a child has been bitten by a dog, the incident should be reported to the police and Animal Control in the county where the incident occurred. They will conduct an investigation and prepare a report on their findings. Animal Control verifies whether the animal has had its required vaccinations. A period of quarantine of the animal may be required if the animal’s vaccination record cannot be verified. This may not seem necessary in those cases where the owner and the dog are well known to you. However, in cases where the owner of the dog is not known, the investigation process allows them to identify and question the owner without you having to get directly involved. The identity of the owner is extremely important in order to learn their address, determine if they own their own home, or the business where the attack occurred, and to determine the identity of their insurance carrier. This is crucial information in order to pursue a claim for compensation and should be obtained whether the authorities conduct an investigation or not.

Chapter 767 of the Florida Statutes pertains to Damage by dogs and the specific dog owner’s liability for damages to persons bitten.There are many unique issues that pertain to injuries suffered by children that Sinclair Law Offices can guide you through.Contact our office today at (321) 253-4200 to discuss your particular case.

Recent Settlements - We Win for You.

$625k / Motorcycle Accident / Compound Fracture leg / Brevard County, FL – 17 year old male operating a motorcycle when defendant made left turn into him, crushing his leg. This case involved minimal coverage in the amount of $25k. After extensive investigation and discovery, we were able to obtain an additional $600k due to lack of properly signed forms by two of the insurance companies.

$575k / Automobile Accident / Facial Surgery / Brevard County, FL – 29 year old male automobile driver struck commercial vehicle that made an illegal left turn. This case involved heavily contested liability. Injuries resulted in face and jaw surgery.

$625k / Motorcycle Accident / Compound Fracture leg / Brevard County, FL – 17 year old male operating a motorcycle when defendant made left turn into him, crushing his leg. This case involved minimal coverage in the amount of $25k. After extensive investigation and discovery, we were able to obtain an additional $600k due to lack of properly signed forms by two of the insurance companies.

$800K / Motorcycle Accident / Back Surgery / Brevard Country, FL-44 year old male operating a motorcycle when defendant made a left turn directly in front of him. Insurance company heavily contested injuries and liability prior to settlement

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