Florida Ranks 12th in Dog Bites Across the Nation
With the arrival of summer, more people are spending their days and evening outdoors. As you spend more time in the sun, your chances of being bit by a dog increase. A recent report by State Farm Insurance lists the state of Florida among the highest ranking states for dog bites. With 93 claims, resulting in costs of $5.5 million, the sunshine state ranked 12th in the United States. This ranking is lower than the previous year, when Florida was listed as 8th in the nation, with 123 claims. Reviewing the increased frequency of dog bites throughout the country, the company reportedly paid more than $104 million in response to over 3,700 dog bite claims during 2013. The report also noted that the rate of dog bite claims reportedly increased by 45% over the last 10 years.
According to the website, dogbite.org, approximately 1,000 people seek emergency medical care for dog bites each day in the United States. In 2013, these bites resulted in 32 fatalities. Children under the age of 7-years-old accounted for 56% of these deaths. If you or your child are the victim of a dog bite, the website suggest that you take the following steps:
- Identify the dog that bit you;
- Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries;
- File a bite report with the proper authorities in your jurisdiction;
- Contact an experienced lawyer;
- Collect contact information about the dog owner;
- Take pictures of your injuries; and
- Keep a journal of your thoughts and medical experiences.
Florida Dog Bite Liability
In the state of Florida, there are two theories of responsibility on the part of the dog owner:
- Strict liability theorizes that dog owners are responsible for any and all injuries caused by the actions of their pet. Even if there is no history of violence on the part of the dog, the owner is still liable. The exceptions to the rule include a victim that provokes the dog unreasonably or incurs the bite while trespassing on private property.
- Negligence is the other doctrine of liability for dog bite cases in Florida. The court must find that the dog owner breached some duty of care to the victim and that the dog bite caused an injury.
High Risk Dog Breeds
Statistics on the dogbite.org website assert that pit bulls and rottweilers accounted for 74% of all fatal dog bites between 2005 and 2013. According to an article in Forbes Magazine, these two dog breeds are among eleven that insurance companies often consider too “risky” for coverage. This means that homeowners or renters experience a more difficult time finding companies that offer coverage for dog bite injuries. Once they do, they must often pay considerably larger premiums. The top four of these “risky” breeds are pit bulls, doberman pinschers, rottweilers and German shepherds. Due to this designation, dog bite victims may encounter pet owners who choose not to insure their dogs. Contact an lawyer to learn your options.