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Pit Bulls are dangerous. Rottweilers are dangerous. Dobermans are dangerous. See the pattern here? The truth is, a dog is a dog and it is what its owner and nature has made it. Yes, there are certain breeds, like those mentioned above, that have a tendency to be more aggressive. This shouldn’t be surprising since that is the way they have been bred.

There is a misguided tendency in our society to blame the animal when someone suffers a dog attack. When in truth, it is rarely the animal’s fault. That is why Florida has strict liability laws when it comes to dog bite cases.

What Does Strict Liability Mean?

Chapter 767 of the Florida Statutes deals specifically with damages caused by dogs and the dog owner’s liability for damages to persons that are bitten.

Whereas many states have a second chance rule, for dog owners, the State of Florida does not. Under Florida law, a dog owner is responsible for all damages and injuries caused by their pet.

That is what is meant by strict liability. There are few exceptions to this rule

Insurance Games

In the majority of cases the master’s Homeowners Insurance will step up to take care of the damages, but as insurance companies have been looking for more and more ways to cut their liabilities, without having to reduce rates, many have started adding a dog or an animal exclusion clause to their standard policies. With older policies, there would normally be a minimum of $100,000 of blanket coverage and possibly, a medical rider as well.

If you are a homeowner with pets, you may want to take a close look at your insurance policy to make sure you are covered.

What to do if Bitten

While in truth, dog attacks are a fairly rare occurrence as compared to other forms of violence, they do happen with some regularity.

Just a few facts you should be aware of:

  • Over 600 Floridians are hospitalized each year from dog attacks
  • On average, since 2009, 2 people in the state die from dog attacks each year
  • The majority of attacks happen in the home
  • The most common cause of a dog attack was inappropriate behavior while interacting with the dog
  • While, nationwide, the instances of dog attacks have dropped, the associated medical costs have steadily risen

So what should you do if you or a member of your family is bitten? First, call the police or animal control. They have the authority to investigate the case, and verify that the animal is up to date on its vaccinations.. If the dog’s shots cannot be verified, then they have the authority to seize the animal and place it in quarantine. They will also verify who the dog’s owner is.

This becomes very important in the second step, which is contacting a qualified personal injury attorney.

Your attorney will need the information from the investigation to determine:
a) If the dog’s owner owns the home or business that the attack occurred in
b) If they have sufficient insurance coverage for you to recover damages.

If there is not sufficient coverage, you may still be able to make some recovery, depending on the owner’s viable assets, but that will depend on your attorneys investigation results.