A precious three-year old girl who was recently bitten by a German Shephard in Orlando’s Baldwin Park neighborhood may not have access to the future healthcare she needs, despite recent ruling designating the dog that bit her as “dangerous.” The Orlando Sentinel recently reported that a hearing office at Orange County Animal Services designated Monty, the German Shephard, as “dangerous.”
Apparently, evidence was presented that Monty had been aggressive with others in the neighborhood, and may have actually bitten another person before he bit little three-year-old Eric Lienhart.
While this kind of evidence obviously suggests that Monty’s owners should have known that he was, at least, potentially dangerous, Florida law doesn’t even require this level of proof to hold a dog owner responsible following a dog bite. In Florida, dog owners are strictly liable for injuries caused by their animals, as long as the victim did not provoke the dog.
Photos of young Erica clearly demonstrate the severity of her injuries. Based upon my experience as an Orlando dog bite attorney, it would not surprise me if Erica required one or more cosmetic surgeries in the future to hide or improve her scars. Florida law makes Monty’s owners responsible for Erica’s damages. The problem in many of these cases is that dog owners often do not have the assets or the financial ability to pay damages.
Until a few years ago, homeowners insurance would often cover dog owners and provide dog bite victims with some hope of being made whole in compensation for their damages. However, over the last few years, many insurers have begun excluding certain dogs from coverage. Other insurers have elected to stop covering dog bites altogether. I believe dog owners should be required to make sure they have dog bite coverage as a condition for owning a dog – particularly with certain breeds that statistically are more inclined to bite.
If you have any questions regarding a Florida dog bite case, call Winter Park personal injury attorney Kim Cullen at 407-644-4444.