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There is no such thing as a fun personal injury case. By definition, the events that lead up to a personal injury lawsuit and their results are not the stuff that dreams are made of or at least I am yet to meet the person whose lifelong ambition was to have their life infinitely altered by the negligence of others.

If there is any saving grace, in the majority of these cases, it is that there is normally not a personal relationship between the injured party and the guilty party. There is one exception to this and that is dog bite personal injuries.

Most people won’t be surprised to learn that over 80 million American homes have dogs as pets and guardians. Too many of these individuals and families, their dog is not simply a pet, but an integral part of their family. Many go so far as to refer to and treat their dogs like their children. This adds a very strong stream of emotion to cases where their animal gets out of control.

Add to this, the fact that, in the majority of dog attacks, the victim is a friend, relative or neighbor and the emotional stresses can reach cataclysmic proportions on both sides of the case. As a personal injury attorney, it is part of my job to divorce myself, as much as I may sympathize with my clients, from these emotional issues and give the very best legal advice that I can, based solely on the facts.

With this in mind, I offer you these few bits of advice and thoughts you should keep in mind if you or a loved one is injured in a dog attack.

It’s Not The Person

Many people are reluctant to file a case involving family members or friends. You shouldn’t be. While Florida Law does have statutes that deal specifically with a dog owner’s liability when their dog causes damage or harm, just as is the case, with an auto accident or slip and fall case, most of the time it is not the person themselves who will be held liable for the damages. It will be their Homeowners Insurance.

In fact, it can be beneficial to try and stay on good terms with the animal’s owner, not only for the sake of the personal relationship but because it can make gathering information for the case, like what coverage they have, much simpler. This is of course before it becomes an actual court case and the insurance company lawyers become involved.

Homeowners Insurance

According to the Insurance Information Institute, a third of all homeowner insurance liability, claim dollars, paid out last year, were due to dog bites. That is 570 million dollars that the insurance companies lost and if you think they are happy about it, you don’t know insurance companies. They will do their best to find fault or negligence on the part of the victim in order to lower their own liabilities.

This is another reason to stay on good terms with the dog’s owner when possible. It may help avoid he said, she said situations.

Also, because of this 16 percent jump in homeowner policy losses, many now exclude certain breeds of dogs or even all dogs from their homeowner policies. If you own a dog you may want to check your policy. If you have suffered a dog bite and this is the case with the animal’s owner it can make collecting damages difficult, unless they are very well-heeled.

As with any personal injury claim, dog bite cases must each be judged based on the merits of the facts in that particular case and how the local courts view those cases. This requires the knowledge of an experienced personal injury attorney, with an in-depth background with dog bite cases.