Monday, August 16, 2010
Help Me Howard: Dog Bite
You live in a city, you pay taxes that pay for the city to have insurance. Then when your dog bites the officer you have to pay his medical bills. Is that legal here? Is Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Thomas Frensley has a sense of humor. His dog scruffy is proof of that.
Thomas Frensley: "This is a little doggie prison uniform. He's got his hat and his stripes."
Scruffy got slapped with the uniform after a little encounter with a police officer.
Thomas Frensley: "And he was just getting acclimated to the house."
A friends mother was battling cancer and asked Thomas to take her dog. He did, but an hour after they got the bishon to their house he escaped.
Thomas Frensley: "The minute he got a chance he bolted. He was on his way back to his original owners."
The Frensleys could not catch him. Later a police officer found him at this intersection, but when he tried to pick him up the dog bit him on the finger. When the Frensleys got there the officer had left the dog with another officer.
Thomas Frensley: "The officers that were holding him said the policeman is fine he didnt even break the skin."
Scruffy went back to his new home and life with the Frensleys other dogs. Then letters started coming from the city of plantation.
Thomas Frensley: "Saying 'hey, you owe $932 for hospital bills.' I'm like hospital bills, this dog didnt even break the skin of this officer.
Patrick: "Did they show you any proof the officer was injured?"
Thomas Frensley: "no none at all."
The police officer had gone to the emergency room twice and there were also bills from two doctors that brings out Thomas's sarcastic side.
Thomas Frensley: "The best I can think is he got him on the trigger finger and you know he couldnt pull the trigger or turn his flashlight on. I really dont have the faintest idea what the bills are for."
Plantation is self insured and in Thomas's opinion, their insurance should pay for their employee.
The city sent him a letter saying if he didnt pay it they would take further action. Meaning a lien on his house or a lawsuit. Needless to say, that didnt make Thomas smile either.
Thomas Frensley: "My thing is if a criminal shoots a policeman are they gonna send the criminal the hospital bill as well."
Well Howard, do you have to pay a medical bill for one of the cities employees, and if you dont cant they come after you.
Howard Finkelstein: "Yes, once you took possession of the dog and became its owner, you are responsible for any damage it causes. Its just that simple."
When I spoke to the police department I was told that the officer's finger was punctured on both sides, and since the prior owner had let the dogs rabies tag expire to be cautious, the officer got medical care.
The city told me they did not have any pictures of the wound. As for why there were billing a homeowner when they had insurance, a city representative told me their deductible was higher than the $938, so the city had to pay it and wanted the money back. Now thomas doesnt have to pay the bill but...
Howard Finkelstein: "If thomas cant pay it or choses not to the city will not forget about it. We are told they will pursue a lien, which would go against his house and when the house is sold the lien would be paid."
Thomas tried to help a sick friend by adopting her dog. Now that kind act has come back to bite him.
Thomas Frensley: "Times are hard for everybody including me. I just dont want and I cant come up with $900 dollars."
Patrick Fraser: "Now if Thomas doesnt pay the hospital bill the city can't slap a lien on his house without filing suit. Going to court and winning that will cost Plantation a lot of money. To avoid that, many cities will accept a payment plan or you can try to negotiate the price down. In other words, Thomas has options."
A small problem taking a big bite of your time? Ready to have someone police the issue? Lien on us. We dont bite fingers, we dont charge fees, we are just a legal lap dog.