An employee of a construction company hired by us (homeowners) entered our fenced property unexpectedly, unannounced and uninvited and was bitten by our 15 pound dog. The fence had a clearly posted, large Beware of Dog sign. The man suffered an open wound from the bite. In the ensuing days, he made contact numerous times stating hardship from medical expenses, visits to an urgent care facility and pain. Over time, it became clear he had not been to a medical clinic as claimed and has now filed suit against us. Can we counter sue for false statements or something of the sort ? Trespassing? Can we sue the company he works for?
3 Answers from Attorneys
In Florida dog bites are strict liability, meaning that if the person was bit you are at fault basically regardless of the circumstances. Your homeowners insurance company will have a duty to defend you from any suit. If he lied to you regarding medical treatment that may be grounds to reduce his recovery but there are probably no grounds for a law suit. You can always consult an attorney for a more thorough exploration of your rights but based on the info in this question I doubt there is a suit.
Your insurance company should provide a defense. If you had no insurance, then seek legal counsel asap. Discovery needs to be conducted to ferret out the legitimacy of his claims. He should have had worker's compensation benefits if he was working construction and that should provide medical and lost wages.
Your homeowners' insurance company may provide you with attorneys who will defend the claim. Because the bite occurred on your property and you had a sign posted, there may be a good defense to the case. If your insurance company will not provide you with attorneys to defend you (because some insurance policies do not cover claims for injury caused by a pet), then you should contact a local attorney who has handled dog bite claims in the past. In particular, you should look for an attorney who is board certified in civil trial law (as are the attorneys in our office), as this indicates expertise in this area. We are a local firm and would be happy to speak to you about the situation. We offer a free initial consultation.
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