Domesticated dogs make excellent companions and have become an ingrained part of our families and culture in general. They provide comfort and prove to be excellent at supporting humans in many aspects, from helping people with disabilities to search and rescue or even the detection of explosives. Nonetheless, it is a sad fact that dogs, like any animal, can still behave unpredictably and have the ability to be aggressive to humans if they feel threatened. A study found that in 2019, 47,000 people in the United States sought medical attention because of an attack or bite.
If you have been involved in a dog bite case, either being a victim of a dog bite or the owner of a dog who bit another person, then you should seek legal advice. This also applies if your dog was attacked by another dog. There are laws in place in Florida that help to protect victims of dog bites and help them to receive financial compensation for the injuries caused by a dog attack. Here at The Law Place, our team of dedicated attorneys has over 75 years of combined legal experience, dealing with cases just like yours. If you call us today, you can arrange a free case consultation with a member of our team.
Following this free consultation, you may decide to employ our services to pursue a dog bite claim. In this case, you would be assigned a dog bite lawyer from our team, who would work by your side for the duration of the case, guiding you through the entire process and gathering evidence to help your case.
Our personal injury attorneys have helped many dog bite victims to win the compensation they deserve following a dog attack. So why not contact us today for a free case evaluation to see how we could help you. Our phone lines are monitored 24hrs a day, 7 days a week for the benefit of our clients. Call The Law Place today at (941) 444-4444.
What Is a ‘Dangerous Dog’?
As a pet owner, you should always take into consideration the safety of others. This is especially true if you have a dangerous dog, which is more likely to be involved in a dog bite incident. Florida Statute 767.11 defines a ‘dangerous dog’ as any dog that has:
- Aggressively attacked, bitten, endangered, or inflicted severe injury on a human being while on public or private property.
- At least twice injured or killed a domestic animal while not on the owner’s property.
- Approached or chased a person in a menacing fashion, unprovoked and on any public grounds.
- Shown an apparent attitude of attack, which must be documented in a witness statement and investigated by an appropriate authority.
Under Florida Statute 767.12, a dog will not be declared dangerous if:
- The threat, injury, or damage, occurred while the victim was unlawfully on the property, or if the person was tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog/its owner/a family member of the owner.
- The dog was defending or protecting a person in the immediate vicinity from an unjustified attack or assault.
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What Are the Legal Responsibilities of a Dangerous Dog Owner?
As an owner of a dangerous dog, a person will have legal responsibility for the actions of their pet if they do not take sufficient precautions to keep others safe. Under Florida Statute 767.12, owners of dangerous dogs must register their dogs with the state, and if the dog is not impounded with the animal control authority, they must confine their dog within a secure fence or another enclosed area.
If the owner takes their dog outside of its enclosure, it must be muzzled and restrained by a substantial leash or chain. The muzzle must prevent the dog from being able to bite a person or other animal, and it must not restrain the dog’s respiration or vision.
The owner of a dangerous dog is required to immediately notify the appropriate animal control authority in the case that the dog becomes unconfined, if it has bitten or attacked a person or another animal, if it is given away or sold, moved to another address, or dies.
If the authorities find that a dog is in violation of Florida’s dangerous dog laws, the owner can be given a civil fine of up to $500. You could also face criminal charges if your dangerous dog bites or attacks a domestic animal or person without provocation. If this attack were to cause severe injury or death, the owner of the dangerous dog could face a fine of up to $5,000 and a prison sentence of up to five years.
What Are the Legal Implications of a Dog Attack?
If you have been bitten by a dog in Florida, we understand how much physical and emotional trauma this can lead to, whether it be the physical injuries or stress caused to the victim of the dog attack or the pain of seeing your own beloved pet in pain.
Following a dog bite, you may wish to seek compensation for the damages caused by the attack to help your recovery process. A dog bite attorney may be able to help you claim for damages such as:
- Medical bills – If you or your dog have been injured by another dog, then you are likely to be facing mounting medical bills, such as surgery, doctor’s appointments, prescriptions, and rehabilitation. Compensation for these expenses will help to put your mind at ease so that the dog bite victim can focus on their recovery.
- Lost wages – If the physical or emotional damage caused by a dog bite incident has forced you to take time off work, then you may be eligible for compensation for loss of income.
- Pain and suffering – A personal injury lawyer will be able to help you calculate some less tangible damages that can occur following dog attacks, such as anxiety, insomnia, and emotional distress.
- Wrongful death – If a loved one has passed away because of the negligent actions of another person, then this person may be liable for wrongful death. This could include, for example, a person failing to properly enclose their dangerous dog.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Florida?
In Florida, there are specific time periods in which you can file a lawsuit in accordance with Florida’s civil court system. This is known as a statute of limitations. A dog bite injury lawsuit is a type of personal injury lawsuit and so has a statute of limitations of 4 years in accordance with Florida Statute 95.11. This means that if you want to file a lawsuit against a dog’s owner, you will have four years starting from the day that the injury occurred.
Even though you have 4 years to file the personal injury lawsuit, it is recommended that you begin the process as soon as possible following the dog attack. This is because memory can fade fast, and evidence, such as witness testimonies and CCTV footage, will be harder to collect. Call us today for a free initial consultation with one of our dog bite attorneys, who will go through the details of your case with you and see how much money you could be entitled to in compensation for your dog bite injuries or trauma.
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Florida’s Comparative Negligence Laws
Under Florida Statute 768.81, Florida works under comparative negligence laws. This means that a court will consider the relative fault of each party when calculating the compensation that a dog bite victim is entitled to. This means that any negligence on behalf of the victim will lower the amount that can be paid out in a settlement. If, for example, the injured person provoked the dog, or the attack occurred due to the injured person trespassing on the dog owner’s land, then a court can find the victim partly responsible, and the total payout will be lower as a result.
What Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Do for Me?
If you are involved in a dog bite personal injury case, then it is highly recommended that you contact a reputable law firm such as The Law Place. As well as guiding you through the process of dog bite claims, your attorney will collect relevant evidence, be the point of contact with relevant insurance companies and fight hard for a fair settlement on your behalf.
With dog bite cases, it is essential that your claim is strong enough to be argued in court if necessary. Insurance companies will do everything they can to avoid paying out claims in personal injury cases, including trying to shift some or all of the blame onto you. Luckily, our lawyers have a lot of experience dealing with insurance companies and will fight your corner to ensure that the dog owner’s insurance company is unable to successfully dispute your claim.
You will only be charged a fee if your case is successful, in which case the fee will be deducted from your final settlement. If you do not win your lawsuit, you won’t need to pay a dime. So what are you waiting for? Contact us today to speak with one of our personal injury lawyers and to see how we can help you.
Call us today at (941) 444-4444.