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What are my options if I am sued for a dog bite in FL with no renters ins and no assets?

Palm Coast, FL |

A neighbor kid (8 years old) was on my property, playing with my son, dog got out and kid ran. Dog gave chase and it appears he tried to grab his clothes but got a chunk of back arm skin. I do not know kid's parents, they let him roam unsupervised. What are my options? We were 5 days away from moving, have no renter's ins and own NOTHING. My husband and I both work though. Thanks!

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Attorney answers 7

Best Answer
Posted

It would be a very good idea to retain counsel. Although you do not have insurance, any attorney who represents the child will not know that at first and if the child does have a significant injury and you do not defend yourself, or have representation, a default judgement could be entered, and you can be garnished once a judgement is obtained. Since you are without insurance, any attorney fees will be your and your husbands responsibility. I would recommend getting renter's insurance in the future, but make sure your agent knows about the dog bite, so they can cover and not exclude dog bites from future coverage.

Posted

Try to retain counsel if sued. If you end up defending yourself and lose they could garnish your wages.

The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. The information provided is of a general nature is not intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney.

Asker

Posted

Thank you. Could you give me any ballpark estimate as to how much retaining someone is? I literally have no clue how much money we are looking at here! 500? 5,000? Thanks!

Clifford M. Miller

Clifford M. Miller

Posted

To negotiate a settlement and draft a release, $500-$1,000. To actively defend the case, you will pay an hourly fee. If you are sued in Flagler County maybe $200-$300/Hr with a ten hour-retainer. More populous areas will be twice that.

Asker

Posted

Thank you Mr. Miller.

Posted

You can settle directly with them. You can wait and see if you are sued. You can retain your own counsel.

The contents of this answer should be considered friendly advice, not legal advice and the answer should not be construed to constitute an attorney-client relationship.

Posted

If a claim is brought against you, you will need to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.

In seeking an attorney on this site, beware of limiting your search to attorneys with a 10 rating, and carefully read the AVVO disclaimer regarding their rating system. There are certain factors that are given great weight which do not necessarily have any bearing on an attorney's experience, abilities, and results with certain types of cases. Accordingly, the rating numbers can be misleading. Also beware of basing your choice on the fee charged, as a low fee, depending on the skill, experience and determination of the specific attorney handling your case, could actually have an inverse relationship to the amount actually put in your pocket.

Posted

Number one rule, stop blaming the victim as a defense, it rarely works and makes you look really really bad. The child wasn't roaming when he got bitten, he was on YOUR property playing with YOUR son, so a duty likely exists with YOU to protect an invitee child on YOUR property from YOUR dog. Mistakes happen, but that doesn't relieve you of your responsibility. Assuming you are sued, you will likely need to hire a lawyer to raise a variety of proper and effective defenses that may exist, or to help make settlement arrangement with the other side. If a judgment is entered against you, it would allow the other people to force payment by things such as garnishment, attachment, levy, and can act as a lien on real or personal property, etc. The other option would be, if suit actually occurs, to file bankruptcy if that is a viable option.

Asker

Posted

Mr.Tischhauser, thank you for your response. Although, I'm not sure where you got the idea we are blaming the child? I only stated facts in my description. I felt that the fact that I am not acquainted with the child's parent would be relevant in case anyone thought I could talk to them and work something out. Certainly not blaming the child for getting bitten. Just wanted to clear that up! Thanks again.

Mark Theodore Tischhauser

Mark Theodore Tischhauser

Posted

My statement was based upon the commentary about the child "being allowed to roam unsupervised". Taken in context, it suggests that the parents are bad parents or that lack of control over the child was a factor in his injury, otherwise there was simply no need to add that point. Unfortunately, "suggesting" fault indirectly with other people is a common and often problematic issue in defending such cases, especially when the possibility exists of being responsible for thousands of dollars in medical bills, and often impairs settlement discussions etc. . So you understand my point, similar comments are often made by car drivers that pull out in front another car, and like clockwork, say the other driver "must have been speeding" which then begs the question of "well if you saw him speeding, why did you pull out?" or "if you didn't actually see him speeding...why would you say such a thing?"

Posted

It sounds like you have two options. First, do nothing and see if you are sued later, at which time you can decide if you want to hire a lawyer to defend the case or be defaulted. Second, attempt to settle the mater now. For this option, I suggest you retain a lawyer to draft the release although you might be able to negotiate the matter yourself.

This is a summary based on incomplete facts. You should not rely on it as legal advise. No attorney-client relationship is intended to be formed.

Mark Theodore Tischhauser

Mark Theodore Tischhauser

Posted

If you opt for negotiating the matter, you would be wise to hire a lawyer for this purpose. While its possible that your negotiations work out, many many times they don't whether its because the other side is unreasonable, you simply can't satisfy them etc. As such, you should always be mindful that as a probable party to any legal action, ANYTHING someone claims you said could be admitted in court as a party admission. Having a lawyer representing you not only eliminates this exposure, but also helps avoid you making a bad deal and then having to try to renege on it if the lawyer hired afterwards points that out to you.

Clifford M. Miller

Clifford M. Miller

Posted

Settlement negotiations should be inadmissible.

Mark Theodore Tischhauser

Mark Theodore Tischhauser

Posted

LOL...I agree.."should be"...... but lay people have no idea what that is or is not "settlement negotiations" until its too late. Hence, its a huge risk to find out that saying "I'm sorry" at the wrong time results in a party admission and loss at trial. (happened in a real case I handled long ago actually). Doing so much appellate work, I learned long ago not to trust the courts to make the right rulings, as opposed to avoiding giving them the opportunity.

Posted

Under Florida law, you will most likely be found liable for the injuries sustained by the child. You have the responsibility to keep your dog under control.

I suggest that you reach out to the parents of this child and find out his situation. Perhaps making an offer to pay all or some of his medical bills could help prevent you from being sued. Ideally, if you pay his bills, you should attempt to obtain a release to prevent you from being sued in the future.

When you do move, I respectfully suggest that you purchase renters or homeowners insurance so that you are adequately protected.

Legal Disclaimer:

If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

Legal Disclaimer: If this information has been helpful, please indicate below. Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.