Increase In Pets Since The Pandemic Could Mean An Increase In Dog Bite Injuries
The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the lives of Floridians in 2020 and 2021. Many were forced to stay at home for extended periods of time, and turned to dogs for comfort. 2020 boasted unprecedented numbers of pet fostering and adoption in Southwest Florida. While adopting pets is a positive thing, and pets can help soothe anxiety and isolation, this rise in pet adoption and fostering has resulted in an unfortunate side effect: an increase in Florida dog bite injuries. According to the Journal of Pediatrics, physicians in certain children’s hospitals reported that the rate of visits to pediatric emergency departments due to dog bites tripled in the last year. Dog bite injury rates in the spring doubled compared to summer rates, when typically these types of injuries are more common. After recognizing a sharp uptick in dog bites, cities like Minneapolis ordered all dogs to be leashed.
Protecting Your Family
Izquierdo & Leon Law recognize that families with kids and dogs have struggled with unique challenges over the pandemic. With children forced to stay home and normal outlets like sports, school, and playdates sidelined, working caregivers may not have been able to supervise every single child-animal interaction, which can raise the potential of dog bites. Moreover, certain new dog owners may not have been fully prepared for raising a new pet and did not socialize or train their pets properly. Over 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs annually, resulting in over 800,000 injuries requiring emergency medical care. The majority of these accidents occur on the property of the dog owner, accounting for one-third of total homeowners owner insurance liability claims filed every year.
Florida Dog Bite Injury Liability
Per F.S. 767.04, dog owners are strictly liable for Florida dog bite injuries, which means it doesn’t matter if the dog has a history of biting or if the owner was aware of its ability to attack. The owner of a dog who bites somebody will be held liable for the cost of damages incurred if the victim was lawfully in a private place or public place. If the victim was partially negligent for the bite (i.e if they were warned but still instigated the dog), the owner may be deemed comparatively negligent, which could reduce damages proportionally. The main exception to owner liability is if the owner displayed a prominent sign including the words “Bad dog,” and the owner wasn’t negligent otherwise. However, the owner is generally likely to be held strictly liable. Trespassers who are bitten by a dog generally may not hold dog owners liable. While most renters insurance and homeowners policies include dog bite liability, if claims exceed the coverage limit the owner is personally responsible to cover the remainder of the damages (unless they have an umbrella liability policy protecting their other assets).
Contact Us Today
If you are involved in a dog bite accident, call Izquierdo & Leon Law today for a consultation to determine your next steps and protect your legal rights.