Liability, Coverage, and Legal Aid for Dog Bite Victims in Gainesville and Ocala
Bill Allen | April 14, 2015 | Gainesville Personal Injury Law News
A dog may be man’s best friend, but not all dogs are best friends with all men. Dog bite personal injury cases evidence the fact that dogs occasionally turn on friendly humans. When dogs bite, dog bite victims are often left wondering how they can recover physically, emotionally, and financially from their terrifying experience. Sadly, dog bite accidents are fairly common in Florida: five hundred Floridians are hospitalized from dog bites injuries every year, and about two of these victims die from their injuries. Therefore, if you have been bitten by a dog, you are not alone in society, and you are also not alone in the legal system. Personal injury lawyers are capable of defending dog bite victims and securing a substantial monetary recovery; the average value of dog bite claims in Florida is $38,400.
As a dog bite victim, you may be seeking answers to questions such as: who is liable for your case, who will cover the expenses of your injuries, and what help can you receive. Thankfully, there are answers to all of these questions, and the Allen Law Firm of Gainesville and Ocala would like to share them with you. We know that suffering a dog bite can be very scary, but we also know that getting information can be the best next step to take towards healing. Therefore, we would like to address some of the biggest concerns about dog bites in order to help dog bite victims move on and find the friend they need.
Who Is Responsible For Dog Bite Injuries In Florida?
In most states, dog owners are responsible for any injuries caused by their dogs. Even if the owner did not think the dog was dangerous, was careful with the dog, or tried to keep the dog from hurting anyone, in Florida, strict liability will still be applied to the case. Strict liability means that the owner is liable without the victim having to prove that the owner did anything wrong. The owner of a dog is “any person, firm, corporation, or organization possessing, harboring, keeping, or having control or custody of an animal, OR if the animal is owned by a person under the age of eighteen, that person’s parent or guardian.”
The owner of a dog is strictly liable if the dog bites the victim in public, or if the victim is lawfully on the owner’s land, but the victim’s recovery will be reduced if they demonstrated comparative negligence. An owner can actually escape the confines of strict liability if they post a prominently placed “Bad Dog” sign. However, if the victim is under six years of age, the “Bad Dog” sign will not release the owner from strict liability. Additionally, even if the owner told the victim to “ignore” the “Bad Dog” sign, the owner can still be held liable.
Who Will Cover The Expenses Of Your Florida Dog Bite Injuries?
If you have been bitten by a dog and endured painful, serious injuries, you may have had to visit the hospital or even the emergency room, and you may become very concerned about the medical bills you have accrued. You are probably hoping that you are not obligated to pay them, and if you have a valid personal injury case, then you can rest assured that your personal injury attorney will work to release you from the burden of these bills.
In most dog bite personal injury cases, the owner of the dog is liable for the injury, and therefore, if they have homeowner’s insurance, their policy should cover the resulting costs of their dog biting someone on their property. However, insurance companies usually only agree to cover the first incident in which the owner’s dog causes injury, and some insurance policies can specifically exclude dog bites. Sometimes, insurance companies will refuse to extend their policies to certain dog breeds, such as Pit Bulls or Rottweilers. Furthermore, if a dog bites multiple victims at one time, each bite on each victim can be considered a separate occurrence under the owner’s policy, and this will affect how much coverage is available.
If the dog bite occurred in a car, the dog owner’s car insurance may cover the costs of medical treatment for the bite. In fact, dog bites that happen in cars are sometimes covered by both homeowner’s insurance and car insurance policies. In these cases, the two insurance companies have to determine ultimately who will compensate for losses, but this matter will not involve the dog bite victim.
If the owner has a dog that is considered a “repeat offender” and is no longer eligible for coverage from the homeowner’s insurance or car insurance policies, they may have insurance through a company that specializes in coverage for pets, and this policy would cover the dog bite accident. However, if the owner of the dog has no insurance whatsoever, they will be responsible to bear the costs alone in the event that the dog bite victim still chooses to pursue legal action.
What Help Can Dog Bite Injury Victims Receive?
Similar to other personal injury victims, dog bite injury victims should not have to face their distress and defend themselves on their own. They have the right to the legal aid that personal injury attorneys such as those at the Allen Law Firm can provide, and with the help of a personal injury attorney, they have the hope of receiving financial compensation. In order to acquire a monetary recovery, the personal injury attorney of a dog bite victim does not have to verify that the dog owner was in the wrong. Rather, they simply have to demonstrate these four things:
- The victim was attacked or injured by a dog.
- The person being sued is the owner of the dog.
- The victim did not incite the dog to bite.
- The victim was in a place where they had the right to be, and they were acting peaceably.
If the personal injury attorney of the victim can confirm that these four things are true, then the odds of obtaining a financial recovery for the victim are in their favor.
Who Can Handle Your Dog Bite Personal Injury Case?
Because your dog bite wound is considered a personal injury, a personal injury attorney will be able to handle your case and fight for the compensation you deserve. When you are confused and frustrated by all that you have to deal with as a dog bite victim, remember that the personal injury attorneys of the Allen Law Firm are here to help. At the Allen Law Firm, we love dogs, but we love people more, and we will always defend the personal injury victims of Gainesville, Ocala, and North Central Florida. If you are the victim of a dog bite, contact the Allen Law Firm to find a new best friend among our personal injury attorneys who care about you.
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