Going out for a morning jog might be the ideal way to start the day for many Florida residents. Some people prefer to walk their dogs in the morning. Unfortunately, someone may run past a dog and right into a terrible situation. A dog bite incident might occur, leaving questions about negligence and civil responsibility.
Negligence, dog ownership and dog bites
Florida statutes leave dog owners in a tough spot when their pet bites someone. The owner need not have any prior knowledge of the dog’s “viciousness,” nor does owner negligence factor into claims. Florida remains a “strict liability” state regarding dog bit incidents, so the owner assumes responsibility for the pet.
If the dog bites someone who jogs past it, the person bit by the dog may sue the owner. Leaving a dog to run around off its leash, especially one that has a prior history of biting someone, may reflect significant negligence. Such negligence could factor into punitive damage demands. Even if the dog was on a leash and the owner took steps to prevent any problems, proving negligence is not a must to recover damages.
Other items to consider when dog bite cases occur
The victim’s negligence may come into question in court. Florida law reduces liability claims by the percentage that the victim contributed to the incident, so a jogger who agitates a dog in some way might not receive a large settlement if the dog attacks. Ultimately, the court looks at how much blame falls on the person bitten.
Homeowners insurance may cover dog bites. However, insurance policies may cap the amount of money for dog bites, so suing beyond the policy might be necessary. Also, some breeds may fall under an exclusion list. The insurance company wouldn’t factor into the claims process if it excluded a particular dog.
Victims of dog bites could ask an attorney to explain both the state’s statutes and their legal options. An attorney may advise on the steps necessary for a victim to recover their losses.