Dog owners need to be wary about potential liability for attacks

Every so often you read a news article about a dog attack that leaves its victim—often a child or an elderly person—with serious wounds, perhaps even fatal wounds. Stories like this, though tragic, are a good reminder of the risks canines can present when they are not kept under control. For dog owners, they are concerning because of the potential liability they could face in such cases.

Dog attacks most certainly cost a lot of money for owners and victims, racking up more than $7 million per year in costs, with the average cost of a dog bite claim falling around $29,750 last year. Florida law doesn’t cut dog owners any breaks either. Owners can be liable even when they had no idea their dog was dangerous, and never attacked anybody before.

When a dog is involved in an accident or attack, they can receive a “vicious dog” citation, which could lead to the dog being confined to its owner’s home or even being put down, if the case is serious enough.

Homeowners and renters insurance policies oftentimes cover dog bite liability up to a certain amount, charging more for owners of breeds well-known for causing bite injuries. Dog owners still need to do their part to ensure others are warned about their dog, and that their dog doesn’t get into any situations in public in which an attack could occur. These include keeping the dog on a leash, keeping it away from young children, and having males neutered.

Those who are wounded by an aggressive dog often live with the scars for the rest of their life. Seeking compensation in a personal injury suit may be the best recourse in some situations.

Source: Abcactionnews.com, “I-Team: Dog bite cases in FL cost owners millions,” Michael George, July 10, 2013.