Skip to content
All posts

New Port Richey Dog Bite Lawyer

Understanding Florida Dog Bite Laws and Insurance Coverage | Peck Law - New Port Richey Dog Bite Attorney

As a New Port Richey dog bite attorney, our attorney has seen how terrible and traumatic a dog attack can be. Even after your physical wounds heal, you may never fully return to normal from a psychological perspective. For example, one study published by the National Institute of Biotechnology found that 12 out 22 children involved in the study, or roughly 54%, had symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 9 months after a dog attack. Due to the serious nature of dog attacks, the Florida legislature has enacted dog bite laws that hold pet owners strictly liable for the actions of their animal(s), but if you or a loved one has been attacked by a dog, there are a few things about Florida’s dog bite laws that you should be aware of. 

Dog Bite Laws in Florida

Pursuant to Fla.Stat. § 767.04, “the owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness . . . .” Thus, this portion of the statute establishes a few things. 

First, a pet owner can be held liable for injuries caused by their dog regardless of the dog’s past behavior or the pet owner’s knowledge of the dog’s past behavior. This means that a pet owner cannot claim that they are not responsible for the injuries their dog caused, because they weren’t aware that their dog had vicious tendencies. The statute is written in this way to establish a form of “strict liability,” which is a legal term that simply means that you, as a plaintiff, will only be responsible for proving that the pet owner engaged in the activity prohibited by the statute, i.e. the person owned the dog and the dog attacked you, in order to prevail in a court of law.

Second, the statute does require you to be in: 1) a public place or 2) legally in a private place, including the property of the pet owner, at the time of the attack in order to hold the pet owner liable for the injuries you have sustained. The term “legally” is included in the second option, because in certain instances, a land owner does not owe a duty of care to an unknown trespasser pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 768.075

Does Homeowners’ Insurance Cover Dog Bites in Florida? 

The short answer is, it depends. In Florida, many insurance companies can and do exclude dog bite claims from their insurance policies. Some of these exclusions are breed-specific, while others exclude dog bite claims as a category. This comes as dog bite claims are on the rise in the United States. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the number of dog bite claims nationwide rose to 17,802 in 2019 from 17,297 in 2018, and the average cost per claim increased by 14.7 percent in 2019 to $44,760 per claim. To determine whether there is indeed insurance coverage, or alternatively, whether the pet owner has the financial means to pay for a claim, it is always advisable to have an experienced New Port Richey dog bite attorney review your claim. 

What Injuries Can I Receive Compensation for After a Dog Bite?

Damages in a dog bite claim can generally be divided into two categories, compensatory damages and punitive damages. In Florida, punitive damages can be awarded “only if the trier of fact, based on clear and convincing evidence, finds that the defendant was personally guilty of intentional misconduct or gross negligence,” pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 768.72(2). Since punitive damages are confined to those cases in which a pet owner is found to be either grossly negligent or to have engaged in intentional misconduct, the bar for obtaining an award of punitive damages in a dog bite case is high. 

In contrast, an award of compensatory damages in a dog bite claim is very common. Compensatory damages come in two forms, economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are awarded to compensate you for financial or tangible losses that you have sustained as a result of the attack such as hospital bills, lost wages, and future medical expenses, whereas noneconomic or intangible damages are awarded to compensate you for the emotional impact the attack has had on your life. These damages cover things such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life. 

Contact a New Port Richey Dog Bite Attorney Today

If you or a family member has been bitten by a dog, contact the New Port Richey dog bite attorney at the Peck Law Firm today. Our attorney understands the difficulties dog bite victims can face after an attack and will work fervently to ensure that you obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries, so contact our office today for a free, confidential consultation.

Start Protecting Yourself Now

Contact Peck Law >