Once your dog has bitten someone, he or she will be considered dangerous from a legal standpoint. While you may have a valid explanation for why the attack occurred, citing that this is not the animal’s normal behavior, the fact remains that the dog attacked a human being. Whatever the reason, without dog liability insurance, you could very well be liable for thousands of dollars in damages.
Dog liability falls on the owner
It goes without saying that dog owners are liable for any injuries their pets cause in the following instances:
- If the owner knew the dog had a tendency to cause that kind of injury
- If a state statute makes the owner liable
- Regardless whether or not the owner knew the dog had a tendency to cause that kind of injury, or
- If the injury was caused by unreasonable carelessness on the part of the owner
Dog-bite statute (strict liability)
The dog owner is automatically liable for any injury or property damage the dog causes, even without provocation. The first type of law that covers dog bites in Florida is known as strict liability. Other states in addition to Florida, such as California, Ohio, and New Jersey have strict liability laws for dog bite injuries, and state that the dog owner is liable for any injuries his or her dog causes.
This differs from what are known as “one bite” laws which do not fault the dog owner unless the dog has already injured someone once before. There are however exceptions to this rule. For example, if a person were found to be trespassing on private property, or provoking the dog in any way when they were attacked, then the dog owner may not be liable.
Florida Dog Bite Law (negligence)
In addition to strict liability laws, an owner can be found guilty on the grounds of negligence. Every state has some form or other of negligence laws. Dog bite injuries often fall under this area or more specifically under an area of tort law known as personal liability.
Clearly dog owners should always have dog liability insurance to deal with the issue of their pet biting or otherwise causing harm to people.