What to do about a dog bite?

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What to do about a dog bite?

Someone got bitten by my dog at the house that I rent. I have no insurance; I’m on unemployment and food stamps. I got a letter from a law office telling me to call if I don’t have insurance.

Asked on April 25, 2011 under Personal Injury, Florida

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You could be liable for negligence for not controlling your dog and preventing the dog from biting the person in this case.  Negligence is based on the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).

If this is not the first incident of your dog biting someone, you may also be liable under strict liability.  Strict liability means that whether or not you exercised due care, you would still be liable for the injuries caused by your dog.

Your liability under negligence and/or strict liability would include liability for the medical bills, pain and suffering, and wage loss of the person who was bitten by your dog.  Compensation for the medical bills and wage loss would be straight reimbursement.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.

It would be advisable to respond to the law firm's letter and inform the law firm that you don't have insurance.  The law firm may decide not to file a lawsuit against you since you don't have insurance.

If a lawsuit is filed against you and a judgment is obtained against you by the injured party, you might want to consider filing bankruptcy.  Chapter 7 bankruptcy is liquidation which would eliminate the debt.  It would be premature to file bankruptcy until there is a judgment against you.


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