Dogs are favorite pets for most Americans. However, they can also become their worst enemies whenever they bite. The possibility of a dog bite is something no one wants to deal with. This is because even small dogs can cause serious injuries when they attack a person. According to the Veterinary Centers of America Inc. (VCA):
“Dog bites can cause significant injury to the skin and soft tissues. The dog’s teeth and jaws are very powerful and the wounds they inflict can crush or tear muscles and skin, penetrate through the chest wall causing lung collapse, or cause serious or fatal damage to intestinal organs.”
The VCA warns that because a dog’s mouth is full of bacteria, a dog bite that punctures the skin can cause a dangerous spread of infections throughout the human body. National statistics show that “Approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States. Nearly 1 out of 5 bites becomes infected.”
Despite the risk of injury, dogs remain a popular choice of companion for many American households. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA), nearly 40 % of American households include a canine companion (compared to 25% for cats and 2% for birds).
And with the holiday season upon us, animal shelter organizations are encouraging people to give the gift of companion animals to their loved ones. If you’re considering adopting a pet this year, keep in mind that just like many other states across the U.S., Florida has strict liability laws for lawsuits involving injuries caused by dog bites.
Aggressive dog breeds & animal liability insurance
Florida has not banned any specific dog breed at the state level. However, local ordinances can possibly ban specific dog breeds or have extra restrictions. For instance, it’s illegal in Miami-Dade County to own or keep American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, according to the Miami-Dade County ordinance, Chapter 5, Sec. 5-17.
Florida takes second place out of a list of 10 U.S. states with the highest estimated number and cost of dog bite injury claims in 2019: 1,268 claims with an average cost of $53,000 per settlement. Some insurance companies won’t offer coverage for certain breeds of dogs categorized as dangerous, such as pit bulls. Others decide on a case-by-case basis. For example, once an owner’s dog bites and injures someone, their insurance company might decide to charge a higher premium or simply exclude the dog from coverage.
- Staffordshire terriers
- Doberman pinschers
- German shepherds
- Great Danes
- Presa canarios
- Alaskan malamutes
- Wolf hybrid
Florida personal injury claims for dog bites
Keep in mind that dog bite personal injury claims have been growing in recent years due to increased medical costs to treat dog bite injuries and the size of insurance settlements given to dog bite victims. So if you’re planning to adopt a dog this season, it’s recommended to avoid the dangerous breeds listed above. If you must own any dog classified as dangerous, take the necessary precautions to reduce the risk of dog bites and consequential injury lawsuits.
In the event of a lawsuit, animal liability insurance functions as a form of third-party coverage that compensates victims for medical bills or the cost to repair or replace their property. If a victim decides to file a personal injury lawsuit against a dog owner, their animal liability insurance will also cover the financial compensation awarded to you for your injuries. It’s important to know that Florida is a “strict liability” state, so an owner can be responsible for injuries caused by a dog bite, even if they weren’t aware of the aggressive nature of their dog breed.
Florida dog bite laws also don’t require the victim to prove their injuries were a result of the owner’s negligence. However, if the victim was negligent in their actions and this contributed to their dog bite injuries, then the compensation they receive may be reduced by a percentage of the blame they share for their own injuries.
When dogs attack, call the Daytona Beach injury lawyers at Zimmet & Zimmet
If you’ve suffered serious injuries from a dog bite, the personal injury attorneys at Zimmet & Zimmet can help you pursue maximum compensation for your damages. Whether this process includes filing a claim with the dog owner’s insurance company or pursuing a personal injury lawsuit against the owner, our Daytona Beach injury lawyers can guide you towards the best option to cover your medical bills, pain and suffering. Contact us online or give us a call today at 386-255-6400 to schedule your free consultation.