Animal Attacks and Dog Bites

Sarasota, Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch

Animal Attacks and Dog Bites

Dog bite, or animal attack, cases, are among some of the most difficult to handle for many reasons, including a typical lack of insurance coverage, questions about the known temperament of the animal, and allegations of trespass or other wrongdoing by the victim.

If you have been the victim of a dog bite or animal attack, contacting an attorney who can help you navigate the laws in conjunction with your fact pattern is your best starting point. Emotions tend to run high because more times than not, you’re dealing with an animal, or animal owner, you know. This can create a very dramatic financial scenario.

Although many people believe that dog bites only come from breeds such as pit bulls and rottweilers, we have also seen injuries caused by labradors, golden retrievers, chihuahuas, and even poodles.

Believe it or not, we’ve also seen exotic pet injuries, including those caused by birds, lizards, snakes and primates.

Although Florida’s statutes provide some guidance as to how to handle these claims, it is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Key facts specific to each attack must be dealt with, preferably by an experienced dog bite/animal attack attorney.

What does the law say?

Specifically, Florida law provides for “strict liability” if you are bitten by a dog.

This means that a dog bite victim need only prove that the bite occurred, and nothing more (i.e.: the victim does not need to prove that the dog had a propensity to bite, is violent, etc.).

There are, as with most laws, limited exceptions to this rule, including trespass by the victim, or being bitten by a police or military dog while performing its duty.

If, however, your claim arises not from a dog bite, but instead from other actions of a dog or other animal, the standard becomes one of negligence and takes on an entirely different standard of proof.

This could include, but not be limited to, injuries resulting from a boisterous animal jumping on you, running into you, tripping you, knocking you over, or lacerating your skin.

In these instances, your animal attack attorney would need to prove that the animal owner failed to act reasonably under the circumstances. The best example of a failure to act reasonably as a pet owner is a failure to leash, or otherwise control one’s pet.

Of course, dog owners are allowed defenses to your claims, much like any personal injury accident. For instance, was the dog antagonized to the point of aggression? Was the person who was bitten lawfully on the premises, or trespassing?

What about insurance?

Unfortunately, we are seeing an increasing trend by homeowners insurance carriers, and rental insurers, to exclude every breed of animal and any possible incident that might occur as a result of said animal’s presence in a household.

This means that although your dog bite/animal attack attorney will attempt to uncover potential insurance policies from which to collect, it is more likely than not that there will be no insurance to cover the loss. Consquently, this necessitates making a claim directly against the animal owner, which may very likely lead to a lawsuit.

Before attempting to handle a dog bite/animal attack claim yourself, reach out to our experienced attorneys for a free consultation.