Liability for damages from animal bites in Florida

When a person is bitten by an animal in Florida, whether it is a dog or another pet owned by another person, he or she may wonder who will be responsible for paying the costs associated with his or her injuries. In some cases, people may shy away from filing dog bite claims because the animal’s owner is a friend or family member.

People may be unaware that the homeowner policies carried by most people cover damages associated with dog bite injuries. Insurance companies received around 16,500 claims for dog bite injuries nationally in 2012 under homeowner’s insurance policies. People should be aware that coverage when the dog or animal is away from the home may have more limitations under the policy.

Often, automobile insurance policies also will provide coverage in the event of an animal bite. If the animal’s owner has separate companies for homeowner’s and automobile policies, the insurance companies may argue with one another about which has the responsibility for payment. People sometimes carry insurance specifically for pet ownership through animal ownership policies. Coverage may be available through such policies if the owner carries one. For those owners who do not carry any insurance protection, the owner may be held to be personally liable for injuries resulting from the bite.

Even if a pet’s owner is a personal friend or family member, a person who suffers from a dog bite may want to file a claim. Animal bites can lead to significant medical bills, scarring and permanently disabling conditions. People may want to ask their friend or family member about any existing insurance coverage. If coverage is available, a claim should be filed with all potential payors. In the event that a person is uninsured, filing a personal injury lawsuit can still help the injured victim recover damages for his or her losses.

Source: Findlaw, “Animal Bites: Who Pays Damages?“, January 02, 2015