Approximately 4.5 million people—including more than 2 million children and more than 5,000 U.S. postal service workers—were bitten by dogs in the United States in 2013, according to a recent Associated Press report. Given the prevalence of dog bites, is important that Florida residents know the facts and laws related to these incidents.

 Dog-Bite Facts and Statistics

Based on its analysis of homeowner insurance data in 2013, the Insurance Information Institute provided the following information related to dog bites:

  • Dog-bite claims accounted for more than a third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2013;
  • Those dog-bite claims cost more than $483 million;
  • The number of dog-bite claims in the United States increased 5.5 percent in 2013;
  • The average cost paid out per dog-bite claim in the United States was $27,862 in 2013; and
  • The average cost per claim dropped 6.4 percent in 2013, but the average cost per claim has increased more than 45 percent in the last 10 years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided some other information regarding dog bites:

  • Nearly a fifth of people who are bitten by dogs require medical attention;
  • Children are more likely to require medical attention for dog bites than adults, and among children dog bites are most common in children between the ages of five and nine;
  • Having a dog in the home is associated with a higher number of dog bites;
  • As the number of dogs in the home increases, so does the number of dog bites, and an adult with two or more dogs in the home is five times more likely to be bitten than an adult without a dog in the home; and
  •  Adult males are more likely than adult females to be bitten by a dog.

Florida Law Regarding Dog Bites

Florida Statute  767.04 governs dog bites in Florida. Here are some important points of the law:

  • Florida is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites, meaning a dog owner is liable when his or her dog bites a person who is in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the owner’s property, regardless of the dog’s former viciousness.
  • The dog owner’s liability may be reduced or eliminated under certain circumstances, however, including the following:

o   The owner may not be liable if the victim provoked the dog to attack.

o   The dog owner may not be liable if the dog-bite victim was trespassing on private property, as Florida law requires that the dog-bite victim was either in a public place or “lawfully” in a private place when the bite occurred to recover damages.

o   The dog-bite victim may be held liable if he or she acted negligently and his or her negligence contributed to the injury. Florida law states that the dog owner’s liability will be reduced by the percentage that the dog-bite victim’s negligence contributed to the biting incident.

o   The dog owner may not be liable if he or she had displayed an easily readable sign including the words “Bad Dog” in a prominent place on his or her premises at the time of the biting incident. However, this exception does not apply if the dog-bite victim is under the age of six or if the dog owner’s negligent act or omission caused the biting incident.

Contact an Attorney Today

Being bitten by a dog can lead to serious injuries that may require long-term medical treatment. If you have been the victim of a dog bite in Florida, contact the experienced attorneys at Reed & Reed today with offices in Brandon and Tampa for a consultation to learn how you can recover compensation.