Some dogs bite other dogs and some bite people. Who is responsible for the damages done by a dog? Headlines this week in Palm Coast discuss the attack of 5 pitbulls in Daytona North on May 4, 2013. The attack was so vicious the victim had to be hospitalized.
What does Brandi Bookamer need to win her case? There are several steps that need to be checked out. First, who owns the dogs? That is very important because the dog owner is liable for the attack. And, if there is a homeowner’s insurance policy for the dog owner, then it will pay for the loss which the owner is responsible for. Note: Some insurance companies have begun excluding liability for dog bites in their insurance policies. They want to know what kind of dog the homeowner has. Certain breeds of dogs are known to be more dangerous than others. Sometimes ownership is vague. The owner will not admit to ownership, and the dogs may not be wearing dog tags. In that case the fact where the dogs live creates a presumption of ownership.
Next, the owner needs to have insurance. As mentioned not every owner has insurance. And it has been my experience that renters seldom have insurance. So if the renter who owns the dog has no insurance are you out of luck? Maybe. If the landlord knows his renter owns a dangerous dog, and he dog bite happened on the premises, and there is no Warning: Bad Dog sign posted, then I’d recommend making a claim against the landlord. His liability will depend on proof that the landlord knew the renter had dangerous dogs living at the rental. Proof of what the owner knew can be difficult if the landlord lives out of the area, unless other attacks have brought the danger to the landlord’s attention. He has a duty to people coming onto his property to make sure it is not dangerous. If he allows a dangerous dog to live there he may be liable just as if he owns the dog himself.
Florida does not exempt the first bite. It is not “free” as some people think. The owner of a dog is responsible for controlling it, and in rare cases the landlord can also be held liable too.
If you need help understanding your rights as the victim of a dog bite, keep in mind that the law is there to help, and you may be preventing another attack by making a claim.