Dog ownership is on the rise, and in 2019 the pet industry was worth more than 75 billion dollars, with 35% of households owning a dog. Thankfully, most of these dogs are well cared for and loved. But sometimes, dogs can become vicious and bite people, usually because they have been mistreated. Shockingly, there are over four million dog attacks every year in the United States.
In the aftermath of a dog bite attack, emotions run high and stress levels sky-rocket. You may be dealing with pain and medical bills, as well as the emotional trauma caused by the attack.
Depending on the exact circumstances, you could be entitled to seek compensation for your damages. The laws can be hard to navigate, however, so we highly recommend speaking to a skilled Fort Myers dog bite lawyer as soon as possible.
Steps to Take After a Dog Bite in Fort Myers
Dog bites are traumatic, and your initial reaction may be to get away as soon as possible. However, taking the right steps will massively help you in the long run.
Identify the dog owner
We highly recommend that you identify the dog owner immediately. Obtain their name and contact information and ask for proof of a rabies vaccination. You may need to undergo a series of shots, which you will need as soon as possible following a bite.
Seek Medical Care
If your injuries require immediate medical attention, then contact first responders (9-1-1). If not, you should still have someone drive you to receive emergency care. You will need a medical professional to see you as soon as possible in order to avoid infection or further complications.
File a Dog Bite Report
You will also need to file a report to your local police, this will help your case, but it will also draw attention to a potentially dangerous dog. It is essential that if a dog is dangerous that it is dealt with properly by the right people.
Photograph Your Injuries
Take photos of your injures as soon as possible, even if they are minor. Your lawyer will use these photos to help your case. You may also need to keep photographing the injury as it changes, especially if it becomes infected. If this involves removing bandages, then speak to your doctor about the safest way to do this.
Begin a Journal
Begin a journey right away, detailing how the bite is affecting you both mentally and physically. Your case could take some time to complete, and your attorney will be able to use this information to support your case and prove your right to compensation.
You should also keep a note of all your expenses relating to your injury, including medical bills and transport to and from appointments.
Speak to a Law Firm
Contact The Law Place as quickly as possible. Your lawyer will ensure that your rights are protected and that the right measures are put in place from the beginning.
The sooner, the better as they will be better able to speak to witnesses and gather CCTV. They will also investigate whether the dog was mistreated and whether it had bitten someone before.
Common Injuries as a Result of a Fort Myers Dog Attack
Fort Myers’ dog bite injuries range from a puncture wound or simple laceration to something more serious. Usually, while the initial wound may require stitches, or may leave a long-lasting scar, the long-term possibility of infections and further complications are more serious.
A dog bite can lead to viruses and diseases, the most serious of which being rabies, which has a high mortality rate and serious side effects.
More commonly, bacteria can infect a dog bite, such as Pasteurella and Staphylococcal. These bacterias are not usually life-threatening but can make a person very poorly and require medical attention.
Dog bite injuries go beyond physical symptoms. Another common result of a Fort Myers dog bite is emotional trauma. Victims may go on to suffer from a life-long fear of dogs as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially when the victim is a child.
The Psychological Impact of Dog Bites
While many discussions around dog bites focus on the immediate physical injuries, it’s equally vital to address the psychological toll such incidents can take on victims. A traumatic experience, such as being attacked by a dog, can lead to prolonged emotional distress. People who have been bitten might experience nightmares, anxiety around dogs, or even more generalized fear and anxiety in daily situations.
Children, especially, are at a higher risk of long-term emotional trauma after a dog attack. The very nature of their developmental stage makes them more susceptible to being deeply affected by traumatic events. Moreover, a negative experience at a young age can shape their perception of dogs for a lifetime, potentially depriving them of the many benefits of a positive human-dog relationship.
It’s important to remember that compensation isn’t just for physical injuries. A comprehensive claim can also include damages for psychological therapy and treatment needed post-attack. Consulting with a Fort Myers dog bite lawyer ensures you get the full range of compensation to which you’re entitled, including therapy and counseling fees.
Understanding Damages in Dog Bite Cases
In legal terms, “damages” refer to the monetary compensation awarded to an individual who has suffered loss or injury due to another’s negligence or unlawful conduct. In the context of dog bites, these damages help to compensate victims for both the tangible and intangible losses they’ve endured as a result of the attack. Here’s a breakdown of the types of damages victims might be eligible for in a dog bite lawsuit:
- Medical Expenses: This is often the most immediate concern for victims. Medical expenses can include emergency room visits, surgical procedures, medications, physical therapy, and any other related medical costs. If the dog bite injury led to infections or complications, those additional treatments would also be covered under this category.
- Lost Wages: If a victim has to take time off work to recover from their injuries, they can seek compensation for the income they lost during that period. For severe injuries that might impact a person’s ability to return to their job or require them to take on a lower-paying position, future lost wages might also be considered.
- Pain and Suffering: These are non-economic damages that cover the physical pain and emotional distress a victim has endured because of the dog bite. It can account for physical discomfort, mental anguish, fear, depression, and other emotional traumas.
- Property Damage: If, during the attack, personal property was damaged (like clothing, accessories, or items being carried at the time), the cost to repair or replace those items can be recovered.
- Loss of Consortium: In certain cases, if the dog bite injury has affected the victim’s relationship with their spouse or family, they may be compensated for the loss of companionship, affection, and other intangible aspects of personal relationships.
- Punitive Damages: While less common, punitive damages are awarded in cases where the dog’s owner acted in a particularly negligent or malicious manner. These damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer rather than compensate the victim.
When pursuing a dog bite lawsuit in Fort Myers, it’s essential to have an experienced dog bite lawyer by your side. They can guide you in assessing and quantifying the full extent of your damages, ensuring you receive the fair compensation you deserve. The impact of a dog attack can be long-lasting, both physically and emotionally. It’s only just that victims are adequately compensated for their suffering.
Florida Dog Bite Law
In the majority of dog bite attack cases, the owner of any dog who attacks an individual is usually liable for the damages and injuries of the victim. Depending on whether the dog has already been named a dangerous animal, the owner may also be facing a misdemeanor. To be more specific, dog bite attacks are usually categorized into the following legal theories:
Statutory Strict Liability
Florida does not follow the “one bite” rule that many other states adhere to. This rule allows leniency to owners who have a dog that has never bitten before.
In Fort Myers, in accordance with Florida Statute 767.04, dog owners are held strictly liable for any injuries caused when their dog bites someone in a public place or if they are bitten whilst on a private property lawfully. This means that you are liable if your dog bites someone and causes personal injury, even if the dog has never before shown any aggressive behavior.
The only situation where the owner can defend their liability is if the victim deliberately provoked the dog or trespassed on land (came onto property unlawfully), where there is a sign that informs people of a “Bad Dog.”
Negligence and Dog Bites in Florida
As well as Strict Liability, you can also be found liable if you are found to be acting negligently. Under Florida Statute 768.81, you can be found liable if you violate your duty of care to others.
Following a dog bite incident in Clearwater, your personal injury lawyer will assess if the owner can be found negligent. They ower everyone a duty of care to keep people safe from their dog, and must act as any reasonable person would and take steps to keep people safe.
A common example of this is if a dog owner lets their pet off their lead where they shouldn’t be.
Time Limits on Filing Suits
Victims of a dog bite in Fort Myers and Florida have two years to file a claim. However, the sooner, the better as the evidence will be stronger closer to the time of the incident. Your law firm will get to work right away, speaking to witnesses, gathering police and hospital reports, and ensuring that everything is being dealt with correctly.
Don’t worry if you are still unsure of what to do; our free consultation involves no-strings-attached advice so that you can make an informed decision on your next steps.
How The Law Place Can Assist After a Dog Bite Incident
The aftermath of a dog bite can be overwhelming, not only due to the physical pain and emotional trauma but also the complex legal landscape victims often find themselves navigating. At The Law Place, our primary goal is to alleviate that burden and guide our clients towards the justice and compensation they rightfully deserve.
Our experienced team of attorneys understands the intricate nuances of Florida’s dog bite laws. We can evaluate the details of your situation and develop a tailored legal strategy that seeks maximum compensation for your injuries and associated losses.
When you choose The Law Place, you’re not just hiring a lawyer; you’re gaining a partner who will stand by your side every step of the way. From the initial consultation to the potential courtroom proceedings, we ensure that you’re well-informed and confident in the choices you’re making.
One of the significant challenges in dog bite cases is establishing the liability of the dog’s owner. Our team conducts thorough investigations, gathering crucial evidence, speaking with witnesses, and collating medical records to construct a compelling case on your behalf.
Furthermore, we handle all communications with insurance companies. These entities often aim to minimize payouts, but with our seasoned attorneys advocating for you, we strive to ensure that you’re not shortchanged and that your rights are always upheld.
The Law Place recognizes the profound impact a dog bite can have on a person’s life. From medical bills to lost wages and the emotional scars that can linger for years, we passionately believe in securing a future for our clients where they are not bogged down by the weight of these challenges.
By entrusting us with your case, you can focus on what’s truly important: healing and moving forward. Let The Law Place be the strong legal voice that champions for your rights and seeks the justice you deserve after such a harrowing experience.
Fort Myers Dog Bite Lawyer, FAQ
Can I sue if a dog bites my dog in Florida?
Yes, in Florida, you have the right to take legal action if another dog bites or harms your dog. The dog’s owner could be held responsible for failing to control or leash their pet, leading to the dog attack. Compensation can cover veterinary bills and any other damages associated with the incident.
How much is a dog bite settlement in Florida?
Dog bite settlement amounts vary based on the severity of the dog bite injury, the extent of the medical treatment required, lost wages if you had to miss work, and any permanent scarring or disability caused by the dog attack. On average, dog bite cases can range from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on these factors.
How long can you sue for a dog bite in Florida?
As of 2023 in Florida, you generally have two years from the date of the dog bite or animal attack to file a lawsuit. If you wait longer than this statute of limitations, you may lose your right to seek compensation. It’s advisable to consult with a Fort Myers dog bite lawyer as soon as possible after the incident.
How much can you get paid for a dog bite?
The compensation for a dog bite depends on several factors: the severity of your dog bite wounds, medical expenses, any lost wages due to time off work, psychological trauma, and other related damages. In cases of a severe dog bite where there’s significant harm or permanent damage, settlements can be considerably higher.
Are the dog bite laws in Florida strict towards the dog owner?
Yes, Florida has strict liability laws when it comes to dog bites. This means that the dog’s owner can be held liable even if the dog had never shown any aggressive behavior before or if the owner had no knowledge of such behavior. The only exception might be if the dog bite victims were trespassing or provoking the dog.
Can I file a dog bite lawsuit if the attack wasn’t from a dog but another animal?
Absolutely. While dogs are the most common perpetrators, you can pursue a claim for other animal attack injuries. Whether it’s a cat, a bird, or any other pet, the owner has the responsibility to ensure their animal doesn’t harm others. It’s essential to have a lawyer experienced in dog or animal attack cases to guide you.
What should I do immediately after a dog attack in Fort Myers?
Seek medical attention for any injuries, even if they seem minor. Dog bite wounds can lead to infections if not treated promptly. Document the incident, take photos of the injuries, and gather contact information from witnesses and the dog’s owner. Report the incident to local authorities. Finally, consult with a Fort Myers dog bite lawyer to understand your rights and potential compensation.
The Law Place
Here at The Law Place, we have a skilled team of dedicated personal injury lawyers with over 75 years of combined experience in Florida law. Unlike other law firms, we will review your case as a team and come up with a strategy so that you can benefit from our combined experience.
If you decide to continue with representation, following a free consultation, a personal injury lawyer, most suited to your case, will become your advocate. They will collect evidence, and investigate your case, in order to ensure that you are offered the compensation you deserve.
We understand how traumatic a dog bite in Fort Myers can be, and we will take away some of the pressure so that you can focus on your recovery.
Contact our Florida law firm today on (941) 444-4444 for a free consultation.