Can you sue someone if their dog bites you?

About 40% of U.S. households own at least one dog, and each day nearly 1,000 U.S. citizens require emergency medical treatment because of a dog bite. You can’t sue the dog. Obviously, the dog doesn’t have any money. In the state of Florida, by statute, the owner of a dog is strictly liable, that is absolutely 100% responsible, for any injury caused by the bite of their dog.  

When we look at a claim, particularly involving a claimant of dog bite, we look for three things. In fact, I describe it as a three-legged stool. So, the first thing is a liability or responsibility. And in the dog bite case, as I said, the dog owner is absolutely liable, leg one. Leg two is, are there damages because of that conduct? Damages such as injuries, medical bills, pain, suffering. Often, majority of the time, those follow a dog bite. So, we have leg number two of our three-legged stool. Where these claims oftentimes reach the difficult spot is the third leg of the three-legged stool and that is collectability. Just like you can’t sue the dog because you can’t get any money from the dog to compensate for your medical bills and your injuries; suing an individual, the owner of the dog, can be complicated and you may not be able to collect.  

That’s where insurance comes into play to cover the damages that you sustain because of the dog bite. In 2021, homeowners insurers paid $882 million in dog bite and dog related claims. There are various reasons that the person, the dog owner, may not have insurance or if they have insurance, it may not cover the dog or a dog bite. Having no insurance is the number one reason that dog bite victims go uncompensated for their medical bills and their injuries.  

Now, if you get a lawyer who’s experienced in handling dog bite cases, they will know how to find out if there’s insurance or there should be insurance. They will know how best to pursue a claim on your behalf, that is not against the dog, but against the dog owner.