Dog Bite Attorneys in Florida
Many people believe that dog bites only come from breeds such as pit bulls and Rottweilers; however, many animal injuries may come from breeds such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and even Poodles. They may also come from other exotic pets, including rare lizards, snakes, and primates. If you have been injured by a dog bite or other animal, a Florida dog bite injury lawyer at Burnetti, P.A. may be able to help you receive compensation for medical bills and lost wages.
Call our skilled attorneys at (888) 444-8508 today to discuss your dog bite case for free.
Have You Suffered Injuries Due To An Animal Attack?
A dog bite can be a serious and traumatic event, especially if the victim is a child. Attacks may cause physical injuries, including puncture wounds or deep lacerations that require stitches. The most vicious dog bites can cause lifelong injuries, and may even lead to death.
Did you incur dog bite injuries in Florida? You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and related losses. The best way to find out what your rights are is to consult a Florida personal injury attorney. Reviewing Florida dog bite laws should help as well.
Florida Dog Bite Laws
Under Florida law, in order to obtain compensation after a dog bite, you should prove:
1. Statutory Strict Liability
Section 767.04 holds dog owners liable when their animal bites and injures someone. Under this section, there is no need to prove that the dog was dangerous. However, the claimant cannot have contributed to the bite and injuries in any way.
You cannot claim compensation under this section if:
- Were trespassing on the dog owner’s property
- Were bitten and injured by a military or police dog performing its duty
- The dog was vicious and caused property damage
To find out if your case qualifies for compensation, consult a personal injury lawyer. Certainly, they know Florida dog bite laws well and can explain exactly where you stand.
When statutory strict liability does not hold, another option is to prove dog owner negligence. It means showing that the dog owner failed to act reasonably in that particular situation.
You would have to establish:
- That any reasonable dog owner would have acted in a particular way
- That the owner of the dog that bit you did not do so
- That their failure to act reasonably led to the bite and your injuries
You may find these difficult to prove. However, they are mere routine for a personal injury attorney. The latter can turn to case precedents, specialty literature, and expert witnesses.
3. Negligence Per Se
It means showing that the dog owner violated Florida dog bite laws and related statutes. Common examples of negligence per se are dog owners walking their pet without a leash. Letting the animal roam unsupervised on the streets qualifies as negligence per se as well. This aspect of Florida dog bite laws only applies when the injuries occur during the act of negligence.
4. Intentional Torts
In some cases, dog owners intentionally cause bites and injuries. They encourage their animal to attack people. If that is your case, obtaining compensation should be easier. You will still need evidence and witnesses, though. These are easier to obtain with the help of a personal injury lawyer.
Statutes Of Limitations Or Deadline For Filing A Dog Bite Compensation Claim
No matter which category your case fits into, you have a four-year deadline for claiming compensation. The countdown begins at the time of the dog bite. Exceptions may apply to cases involving minors or resulting in disability. The countdown may begin when the child becomes of age or the victim recovers from their disability.
Types Of Damages Your Attorney May Be Able To Recover
Each dog bite case is different. Also, the losses for which you can be compensated will vary from case to case.
Depending On The Particularities Of The Dog And The Circumstances Of The Bite, The Injuries Can Be:
- Bruises, cuts, and abrasions
- Bite marks
- Permanent scars
- Broken bones or fractures
- Traumatic brain injury
- Soft tissue injuries
- Temporary or permanent disability
The compensation can cover the treatment of these injuries and the pain and suffering they caused. It will also cover property damage and financial losses (income and earning capacity). In exceptional cases, the victims may claim additional losses like consortium and life enjoyment.
Obviously, The Dog Owner Wants To Avoid Paying Compensation. In Their Defense, They May Try To Show That:
- You were trespassing
- Somehow you provoked the dog and, caused the injuries
- You harmed the dog in the past and that justified the attack
To make sure their defense will not hold, you should hire a personal injury attorney. They will explain everything you need to know and take over all the formalities.
Are Dog Bites The Toughest Personal Injury Claim To Prove?
As Florida’s population continues its upward climb, the number of pets accompanying people will undoubtedly rise, too. And, with the rise of pets comes an increase in dog bites. Since attacks of this magnitude are treated either as premises liabilities or personal injuries, many calls to question just how difficult these cases are to adjudicate. While there’s no clear-cut answer, we’ll go through the process of fighting for compensation from dog bite injuries to provide clarity as to what’s involved with Florida’s dog bite statute and claims against owners.
Whether walking down the sidewalk or attending friendly social gatherings at friends’ homes, dogs don’t usually pick when or why they attack; sometimes they just don’t feel comfortable around certain people or may be reactive to certain scents. Nonetheless, you were attacked without provocation, and need immediate ambulatory care.
If you’re wondering whether the animal owner is culpable for their dog’s angry outburst, the short answer is yes. You have probably spent the time since getting bitten evaluating what legal recourse may be available, but more importantly, how much of these medical bills will be covered by insurance.
Although the dog may have free will, if it is capable and likely of causing damage or harm to any individual then it is up to the owner to control it and remove it from situations where incidents, such as biting, can occur.
Much like other personal injuries, dog bites will leave victims without gainful employment throughout the duration of their recovery. Months if not years of physical therapy could ensue. With no income, many cannot pay healthcare bills and everyday living expenses.
How much victims can collect, if anything, depends on what losses are incurred, and the likelihood the claim is payable. Stipulations may apply.
Laws And Potential Defenses To Dog Attacks In Florida
Florida has adopted strict liability dog bite laws that make pet owners liable for their pets’ actions, regardless if the owner knew an attack was imminent or it happened by complete surprise. FLSA 767.04 makes dog owners liable if the victim is on one’s premises, and indeed bites.
But pet owners are afforded defenses to claims, much like any personal injury accident. For one, was the dog antagonized to the point of aggression? Was the person who was bit lawfully on the premises, or did they break in? These are two primary defenses.
Upon successful application of either pet owner defenses, an element of comparative negligence may occur which could lessen the amount victims receive. Victims who, for example, accidentally step on the dog’s tail, or knock over their food bowl, could be partially responsible for their own injuries.
In determining victim compensation where victims had some responsibility, the amount of total dog owner liability reduced by the percentage of the victim’s negligence. So, if the jury awarded $5,000 for the attack but the victim was 40 percent liable, they would get $3,000 ($5,000 – 40 percent, which is $2,000).
Florida statute dictates that victims have four (4) years from the incident to file a civil suit, although its unlikely victims would wait for much longer than their recovery to file.
The Florida Health Department collects data and offers dog bite prevention tips useful to new and experienced pet owners. According to data, 600 people go to the hospital and two people die annually from dog attacks statewide. Children under nine, specifically boys, are at highest risk of having an injury.
In nearly all available data, one constant remains unchanged: temperament is the strongest factor in how dogs react to people.
What To Do If Bitten By A Dog?
To reiterate, dog bites are serious and may lead to homeowner liabilities into the thousands of dollars. You need to take certain steps should you wish to have an ironclad case in court:
- Immediately call for ambulatory care or head to the emergency room, and phone police, even if you feel the bite isn’t significant. Rabid or otherwise sick dogs can cause complications even with the smallest bite. If animal control is prudent, law enforcement will phone them on your behalf.
- Avoid hostility. Scream for help if necessary, but don’t become aggressive toward the pet owner, as this may trigger unwarranted violence.
- Make sure to note the dog owner’s address and contact information. Getting the pet owner’s information if away from home is vital.
- Contact an experienced Florida dog bite attorney, who can guide you through the civil suit process and answer any questions that arise.
Unless uninsured, renters’ and homeowners’ insurance policies cover premises liabilities claims like dog bites. This is usually why they won’t grant some policies if the breed of dog is highly aggressive by nature.
You Have Entitlement To Compensation If Bitten
Homeowners may intimidate you into taking a few hundred bucks in exchange for silence. Even worse, some pet owners may threaten legal action against you.
Make no mistake – persons injured have an entitlement to compensation for injuries by no fault of their own. Never accept offers from dog owners when injured as they’ll probably be significantly less than your case is worth.
If you’ll be away from work and require extensive medical treatment, it’s worth fighting for every penny.
One of the problems with dog bite cases is that they can be complicated. Sometimes, the dog that attacks us belongs to a friend or family member. The last thing we want to do is file a lawsuit against our friend. And, even if we don’t know the owner, it’s not always easy to prove that the dog owner is at fault.
Some of the questions these cases bring up are:
- Was the dog naturally aggressive?
- Did you do something to provoke the dog?
- Did you know the dog was prone to bite people?
- Were you trespassing?
- Was the dog on a leash at the time of the attack?
Thankfully, your Florida dog bite lawyer knows the law. He will work hard to prove your case.
Your Florida Dog Bite Attorney Needs To Prove Your Injuries
If you’re bitten by a dog, you probably suffered some injuries. They may be superficial. Or, they could be serious. It really depends on the dog. It also depends on where on your body you were bitten.
The first thing you should do after a dog bite is to go to the hospital. Even if don’t think your injuries are serious, you should go. You might need a rabies shot. You might need stitches. Either way, you’re going to need proof of your injuries later on.
Some of the most common dog bite injuries are:
- Bruises and lacerations
- Torn ligaments and muscles
- Facial disfigurement
- Deep flesh wounds
Depending on how severe your injuries are, you may miss a few days from work. You could be out for weeks or months if you need surgery. Your Florida dog bite attorney will work hard to get you compensation for this missed time.
You Need An Experienced Dog Bite Lawyer In Florida
Dog bite cases aren’t always clear cut. Yes, a dog bit you. Yes, you were injured. You even know who owns the dog. Sounds simple, right? Not really.
According to Florida dog bite law, a dog owner is liable for injuries if:
- The dog bites another person
- The person is in a public place or lawfully in a private place
Unlike a lot of other states, Florida is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites. You don’t have to prove that the owner knew the dog was likely to bite you in order to recover. However, the dog owner does have two defenses to a dog bite claim:
- You were trespassing
- You were comparatively negligent
This is where the earlier questions come into play. If the defendant can prove that you caused the dog attack, he won’t be held liable. For example, if you were taunting the dog, you could be held partly at fault. Or, if the dog owner tells you the dog is violent and asks you not to pet him, don’t pet him. If you do and he bites you, the owner will probably not be held liable.
Your Florida dog bite lawyer had handled cases like this before. He knows what it takes to prove liability.
How A Florida Dog Bite Lawyer Will Prove Your Case
Chances are, you don’t have a copy of the dog attack on video. If you did, it would make your lawyer’s job a lot easier. Usually, a dog bite happens out of nowhere. The only evidence you’ll have is your physical injuries and the words of eyewitnesses.
If you were bitten while in someone else’s house, you’ll have to prove that you had a right to be there. If you were breaking into your neighbor’s house and get bit by their dog, shame on you! Also if you are walking down the street and a stranger’s dog bites you, it’s important you find out who the stranger is. Where does he live? What is his name? Is he a local or just here on vacation?
The dog owner may also say that you are responsible for your injuries. There are always two sides to every story. The defendant’s lawyer will argue that you prompted the dog to bite you. It will be your word against theirs. Thankfully, since Florida is a strict liability state, it won’t be hard to prove liability.
You Need To File A Claim Against The Dog Owner’s Homeowner’s Insurance
If your dog bite takes place while on someone else’s property, you may be able to file a claim against their homeowner’s insurance. This is why people have insurance. If there is an accident on their property, their homeowners should pay.
If your claim is denied, you will probably have to file a suit. Your dog bite lawyer in Florida will try to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. But, if that doesn’t work, you’ll have no choice but to go to court.
If the dog owner doesn’t have insurance or isn’t a homeowner, you’ll run into another problem. You’ll have to file a claim against his landlord’s insurance. This means you’ll have to prove that the landlord is responsible for your injuries. This can complicate your case even further.
Contact A Dog Bite Lawyer
If you or your loved one has been bitten by a dog or attacked by an animal, it is important to be aware of what compensation may be available to you; a law firm that handles dog bite claims can evaluate your injury and assist with legal needs.
Would you like to know more about Florida dog bite laws or get help with your case? Our personal injury attorneys can help.
Schedule a consultation with us by calling (888) 444-8508 or filling in the online contact form. The first consultation is FREE. Also, we accept a contingency-based agreement. This means you only pay for our services if and when we win so you have nothing to lose.
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