In the State of Florida, dog ownership involves a right to possess personal property in the form of a pet. It also involves the responsibility to control the dog and to be responsible when the dog bites or attacks another person. Florida has adopted the “Strict Liability” rule for dog bite related cases. In other words, if a dog bites or attacks a person, the dog owner is liable regardless of the dog’s prior history or lack of prior history of aggression or prior dog bites. For example, let’s say that Fido, a Golden Retrievers, bites another person in the face causing serious personal injuries. Prior to the incident, Fido was the always the nicest and most gentlest of dogs. The injury victim was in the living room of the dog owner and, for some reason or no reason at all, the dog lunged forward and bit the victim in the face. Under these circumstances, it does not appear that the dog owner did anything wrong. There was no duty to have the dog on a leash in the living room. Furthermore, the dog owner did not have any notice at all that the incident was likely to happen based on Fido’s prior history of being a wonderful and friendly pet. Nevertheless, under Florida’s Strict Liability Dog Bite Law, the dog owner, subject to some limited exceptions, will be liable for the injuries caused by the dog bite.
A key consideration or issue in pursuing a dog bite case involves the presence or absence of homeowner’s insurance. Unfortunately, in the State of Florida as well as other states, far too many homeowner’s insurance policies exclude coverage for dog bite related injuries. When there is coverage for dog bite related injuries, many such homeowner’s insurance policies limit coverage to an amount less than other types of liability / injury claims that can be pursued under the insurance policy. When there is insurance coverage, a claim can be pursued. When there is no insurance or an exclusion in place, a case can still be pursued; however, it may prove to be difficult to get the dog owner to pay out of his own pocket for the personal injuries caused by the dog bite.
David Wolf is a personal injury attorney with over 28 years of experience. He is the author of 12 books including the book titled – When A Dog Is Not Man’s Best Friend – Legal Rights Of The Dog Bite Victim. The book has chapters on the following topics: