Florida Ranked Second in the Country for Dog Bite Claims in 2018

Insurance giant State Farm recently conducted a survey that ranked the Sunshine State as having the second most dog bites of any state in the country in 2018. According to State Farm’s annual survey, prepared in connection with National Dog Bite Prevention Awareness Week in mid-April, more information about which can be found here, statistics from the American Veterinary Medical Association reflect that approximately 4.5 million people each year are bitten or injured by dogs. Of that number, nearly 350,000 people are treated at hospital emergency rooms annually.

The Insurance Information Institute (III), an insurance industry trade group, also reports that dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for nearly one-third of all homeowners’ liability insurance claim dollars paid out in 2018, costing insurers $675 million in total across the country. The III determined the number of dog bite claims nationwide decreased to 17,297 in 2018, compared to 18,522 in 2017–a 6.6 percent decrease in the number of total claims. Nevertheless, the average cost per claim increased by 5.3 percent. The average cost paid out for dog bite claims was $39,017 in 2018, compared with $37,051 per claim in 2017.  In 2018, State Farm itself paid $123 million dollars for 3,280 dog bite and injury claims. State Farm further reported that it had paid out more than $1.1 billion on homeowners’ insurance claims related to dog bites between 2009 and 2017.

Although insurers like State Farm or insurance industry bodies like the III like to talk about how preventable dog bites are, this is only partially true.  Until dog owners take responsibility for ensuring their pets are properly trained, dog bites will continue to occur and homeowner’s insurance is a resource that can and should be tapped by victims of such attacks to compensate them for the harm and damages they suffer as a result of someone else’s negligence in not appropriately or restraining their dog.

Florida Law Regarding Dog Bites and Responsibilities of Dog Owners

The scenario of a dog biting someone is so common that the Florida Legislature has specifically enacted legislation relating to dog bites and setting forth the standard pursuant to which Florida dog owners are to be held if their dog injures someone else.  This law, which appears in Section 767.04, Florida Statutes, sets forth a dog owner’s liability in the event his or her dog bites someone in Florida.  Under that statute, the owner of a dog that bites someone who is in a public place, or lawfully in a private place, including on the property of the dog owner, is liable for damages suffered by persons who are bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.

The Reality of the Injuries Often Suffered Dog Bite Victims

Persons attacked by dogs often suffer permanent injuries that can require costly and serious medical treatment, surgeries and therapies (also often accompanied by excruciating pain and suffering) that often may not even truly fix the damage caused by the dog bite.  Many dog bite incidents involve infants and small children, who very well may end up with scarring and disfigurement from the incident that will be present for the rest of their lives.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys of Schwed, Adams & McGinley Today

If you, your child or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite in Florida, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys of Schwed, Adams, & McGinley, P.A. today.  Our attorneys have more than 150 years of combined practice representing victims, including those that have suffered from dog bites.  We understand how devastating it can be when someone you love, particularly an infant or young child, is mauled by a dog, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that the dog’s owner compensates you to the maximum extent permitted under Florida law. Dog bites are a particular danger in Florida and, if you have been the victim of such an attack, then you need the experience of a lawyer from our firm on your side. Therefore, if you, a family member or a loved one have been injured by a pet owner’s failure to properly restrain or control his or her dog or other animal, contact Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A today at 877-694-6079 or contact@schwedlawfirm.com for a free consultation