Most of us think of dogs as beloved companions that bring joy to the lives of many as pets. We may also think of their work aiding those with disabilities and the police. Sometimes, though, dogs can become aggressive. They can attack and potentially leave someone with a dog bite injury. Dog bites can be extremely dangerous, sometimes breaking the skin and leaving the injured person vulnerable to infection. In some cases, dog bites can be so dangerous as to cause fractures and disfigurement.
At The Law Place, we recognize how physically and mentally damaging a dog bite injury can be. Our team of dedicated personal injury attorneys with over 75 years of combined experience want to help you with your case if you choose to make a legal claim. We can offer you a free case evaluation with a personal injury lawyer who can provide you with legal advice on Florida’s dog bite laws and how to pursue a dog bite lawsuit. Our attorneys value the attorney-client relationship, and they will keep your sensitive or confidential information private.
If you have been involved in a dog attack and want to discuss your legal options, then call us today at (941) 444-4444 to book your free consultation with a member of our team.
Who Can I Sue for My Dog Bite Injury?
If there was any negligence on the part of the injured person that directly caused the incident, then the liability of the dog owner is reduced by the percentage of fault that lies with the victim. This is known as comparative negligence and is described under Florida Statute 768.81.
Strict Liability in Florida
Florida is a strict liability state. This means that the dog owner will be held strictly liable for the victim’s injuries. The only way for a dog owner to reduce their liability would be if they can prove that the negligence of the injured person directly caused the dog bite. In most dog bite cases, the dog owner will be found liable because of this strict liability rule.
What Should I Do After a Dog Bite Injury to Help My Case?
It is extremely important that you are aware of what to do if you are bitten by a dog in order to build a strong dog bite case.
Dog bites often occur when a dog is taken on a walk, and that could mean that you are in an area with little to no CCTV or witnesses. This means that you will need to gather and produce as much crucial evidence as possible for a successful case.
If you have been bitten, you will need to find out the identity of the dog and the dog’s owner. Once you have done this, call 911 to report the incident. Calling 911 in the immediate aftermath of the attack means that there is documentation stating the exact time and place of the attack. In addition to this, the operator can give you advice on how to tend to your injuries at that moment and advise you on what evidence to gather. If there are witnesses around, then it is useful to obtain their contact information as well.
It can be extremely useful when making dog bite claims to have photographic evidence of the incident. This can include pictures of your injuries, the dog itself, and the location, especially if the location is somewhere that you may find hard to describe.
Laws on Dangerous Dogs in Florida
In order to avoid dog bites where possible, Florida has laws that concern dangerous dogs and how they should be handled. These laws are extremely significant when bringing forward a dog bite lawsuit, as you can potentially claim greater compensation if the dog that bit you is a ‘dangerous dog’ and the owner has failed to contain it properly.
How Does the Law Define a ‘Dangerous Dog’?
A dog is regarded as dangerous if it has:
- Aggressively endangered, attacked, or bitten a human on public or private property.
- Has killed or severely injured another domestic animal whilst off the owner’s property.
- When unprovoked, has chased or approached someone in a menacing fashion on public grounds.
There are some exceptions given. A dog is not dangerous if:
- The victim of the dog bite was unlawfully on the property.
- The victim, if lawfully on private property, tormented, abused, or assaulted the dog or the dog’s owner or a family member.
- The dog was protecting a person that was being unjustifiably attacked or assaulted within the immediate vicinity of the dog.
What Legal Responsibilities does a Dangerous Dog Owner Have?
There are a number of requirements that dangerous dog owners need to follow. If these requirements are not followed, then the dog owner will be held legally responsible for their dog’s actions.
It is necessary that a dangerous dog is registered within Florida by its owner, and it must be kept confined within a secured fenced or otherwise enclosed area. If the dog is to be taken out of its enclosure, then the dog must be muzzled or restrained by a substantial chain or leash.
If anything happens to the dog, such as moving to a new address, passing away, or being given or sold to another person, then the dog owners must notify the appropriate animal control authority. If the dog bites or attacks a person or animal or if the dog is loose the appropriate authorities should also be contacted.
What Punishments Are There for Violating Florida’s Dangerous Dog Laws?
If the owner of a dangerous dog has been found to have violated Florida’s laws on dangerous dogs, then they may face a civil penalty.
If a dangerous dog has bitten someone, then the owner will likely face criminal proceedings. If the dangerous dog bites or attacks another person or domestic animal, then the owner could face a fine. If this attack causes severe injuries or death, then the fine can be raised, and the owner could face a prison sentence.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Cases Involving Dog Bites?
A dog bite case would follow Florida’s statute of limitations in regard to personal injury cases. Therefore, following Florida Statute 95.11, an action for a dog bite must be brought within four years. This time period begins on the day that the dog bit you and the injury occurred.
Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries
If you have been bitten by a dog and suffered harm, then it is important that you receive financial compensation. No matter how severe your injury is, a dog bite can have a significant effect on you physically, mentally, and financially. Compensation can help you whilst you recover, relieving some of the burdens that may be placed on you due to how the injury affects your life.
There are multiple types of damages that dog bite victims can claim. Some of these are economic, meaning that they are specific, calculable amounts of money that you have lost or will lose out on that can be reimbursed through compensation. Examples of economic damages are:
- Lost wages – You can recover wages that you have lost out on from missing work as a consequence of your injury. This extends to any future loss of earnings as well.
- Medical bills – No matter how severe your injury is, medical bills can be a significant financial burden. This type of compensation helps to reimburse these bills so that you can get the treatment you need without having to worry about the cost of the procedure, medication, or other medical costs.
There is another category of damages – non-economic damages. These include damages that are more subjective. These can be harder to calculate but are just as important as economic damages. Examples of non-economic damages that can be claimed by victims of dog bites are:
- Pain and suffering – This category will provide you with compensation for any emotional trauma that you have experienced since being bitten.
- Wrongful death – If a loved one has died as the result of a dog bite and negligent dog owner, then you may be able to sue the dog owners on their behalf.
Contact The Law Place About Your Dog Bite Injuries Claim Today!
Being bitten by a dog can be a terrifying experience, and trying to understand dog bite laws on your own in the aftermath can be extremely difficult. This is why we want to help you! Our dedicated team of dog bite lawyers, with over 75 years of combined experience, want to equip you with the knowledge to succeed in a personal injury lawsuit.
At The Law Place, we offer free consultations, and so, if you contact us, we can provide you with a free case evaluation with a dog bite injury lawyer who can give you useful legal advice towards your case. Our attorneys prioritize the attorney-client relationship and want to give you the best advice based on your personal situation.
To book your free consultation, call The Law Place today at (941) 444-4444. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so do not hesitate to book your free consultation now!