Florida No. 8 in Nation in Dog Bites
An industry report placed Florida in the top ten of the 50 states with the most dog bite claims in 2012.
State Farm named Florida number 8 in the report, with $7.1 million in claims in 2012. The top ten, in order, were California, Illinois, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Florida, Georgia and New York. Overall, insurance companies paid $489 million for dog bite claims in 2012. More than half of all dog bite victims are children. In fact, one advocacy group claimed that dog bites were the tenth leading cause of unintentional death among children under age 14.
Florida law provides for strict liability in most dog bite cases: the owner is liable for the damages caused by the animal, even if the animal has never attacked anyone before. Dog bite victims have a number of legal options in Florida:
- Strict liability: The major defense in a strict liability action is that the owner clearly displayed a “beware of dog” sign, or a sign containing similar language. This defense is not available if the victim was too young to read the sign, i.e. under age six.
- Negligence: A victim may also sue for damages if the owner failed to take reasonable care to prevent attacks ― the owner did not have a large dog on a leash or allowed the dog to enter a school.
- Scienter: The Latin word for “knowingly” may allow a lawsuit against someone other than the dog owner if that person knew the dog was dangerous, such as a dog walker or dog kennel.
- Landlord liability: A landlord may be responsible for a dog attack, if the landlord prohibited violent dogs and did not enforce that prohibition.
If you or a loved one is injured in an animal attack, contact experienced personal injury attorneys.