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Dog bite liability

Uncle Joe is a retired, salty old man with a pet Rottweiler that he adores.  One day, the Rottweiler bites the mailman.  The mailman sues for personal injuries, but Uncle Joe’s homeowners’ insurance company declines to pay for Uncle Joe’s defense against the mailman’s lawsuit.  Uncle Joe seeks advice from an attorney, who tells him that his homeowners’ insurance company has no obligation to provide him with a defense under the homeowners’ insurance policy.  Uncle Joe must now pay for the defense against the mailman’s lawsuit with his own money.

This scenario is all too familiar among plaintiff attorneys.  What many in the general public do not know is that their homeowners’ insurance policy will generally contain what is known as “an animal exclusion clause.”  This clause, in effect, states that the homeowners’ insurance company will not provide any coverage (i.e. will not provide the homeowner with a defense) for personal injuries caused by the homeowner’s pet animals.  Sometimes, these clauses will exclude liability for only certain types of animals, such as a certain breed of dog, and sometimes they will have blanket exclusions for liability of any type of animal.  This is why it is important for homeowners to truly understand the policy they purchase.  If the homeowner has any pets, such as a large breed of dog, then the homeowner should consider purchasing a separate insurance policy covering potential liability for personal injuries that may rise from the homeowner’s pets.  Without such coverage, homeowners like Uncle Joe in our example above are left to defend against personal injury lawsuits on their own.

If you have been injured in a dog bite or in any other manner involving someone’s animal, then call us at (727) 669-2828 or 1-877-FLA-FIRM and let us help you.



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