Therefore, in 2020, many people in Florida decided to foster or adopt a pet to help with feelings of loneliness, anxiousness, and isolation.
Since then, there has been an increase in the rate of pediatric visits to the emergency departments in Florida because of dog bites. Dog bite rates increased drastically over the spring and were more than double previous rates, making this kind of injury much more common.
So, with the uptick in dog fostering and adoption, we also see a rise in dog bite incidents across the state.
Dog Bite Liability
So, who is liable for a dog bite incident? Dog owners are strictly liable for a Florida dog bite injury. It doesn't matter if the dog has never bitten anyone before; if their dog bites someone, the owner is held legally responsible and must cover the costs related to any damages as long as the bite happened while the victim was in a public place or lawfully within a private place, including the dog owner's home.
There may also be a case of comparative negligence, where the victim was partially responsible for the dog bite. For example, the bite occurred because the victim, in some way, instigated the dog. If this is the case, then their damages will be less as they share some of the responsibility.
Insurance Policy Coverage
Are dog bite incidents covered under insurance? Many homeowner and renter's insurance policies do include dog bite liability clauses and offer between $100,000 and $300,000 in coverage. However, if the claim that was filed exceeds this coverage amount, then the owner is legally responsible for coming up with the rest.
Preventing Dog Bites
As you can see, dog bite incidents can become quite costly very quickly. If you don't have the right umbrella insurance policy in place, your renter's or homeowner's insurance may not be enough to cover all the costs associated with the dog bite. So, prevention is key.
To prevent dog bites as a dog owner, try to socialize your dog and be a responsible dog owner. You want to avoid putting yourself and your dog in any risky situations where they may feel the urge to bite and you want to pay close attention to body language to help determine if an issue is likely to arise.
If you are someone walking along and you do not own the dog, it is important to learn the signs of biting. Don't try to interact with the dog, ask the owner's permission before greeting the dog or petting the dog, and stay clear of aggressive dogs.
It is also important to teach your children how to act around dogs as well. Teach them to be gentle with the dog and never leave a child ten years or younger alone with a dog.
No matter how hard you try to prevent it, accidents do still happen. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a dog bite, you may be entitled to compensation for those injuries.
A qualified personal injury attorney can walk you through your available options and help determine how much compensation you may be entitled to.
But again, prevention is always best. Do what you can as a pedestrian and a dog owner to avoid this situation as much as possible..