Dog bites are among the top 15 causes of nonfatal injuries in the United States that are serious enough to require hospitalization. On a state-to-state basis, Florida is one of the leading states in the nation for dog bite fatalities, with most victims being under the age of six.
Florida is a strict liability state when it comes to personal injury cases involving dog bites. This allows dog bite victims, or their surviving loved ones, to seek compensation for physical, mental, and financial damages through taking legal action against the dog owner.
If you’re a Florida resident who has been injured or lost a loved one to a dog bite incident, the dog bite lawyers of Florin|Roebig can determine your legal options and help you recover compensation for injury-related damages.
How Often Do Dogs Bite People?
Millions of dog bites occur in the United States each year, with 1 in 5 of these bites requiring medical attention. The most common dog breeds implicated in dog bite incidents are pit bulls, German shepherds, and mixed breed dogs.
Young children and infants are at the highest risk for suffering serious injury from dog bites. In 2018, all fatal dog bite victims in Florida were children under the age of six. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), dog bites are one of the top 10 causes of nonfatal injuries among victims aged one to nine requiring treatment in a hospital.
Dogs responsible for bite injuries are typically known to the victims, meaning it may be a family pet, a neighbor’s dog, or the pet of a family friend. In adults, the areas of the body most commonly injured are the hands and arms. Children most commonly experience injuries to the head, neck, and face.
Dog Bite Consequences
The majority of dog bites that occur in the U.S. are not serious enough to require hospitalization or a trip to the emergency department. When dog bites are serious enough to cause injury, however, the consequences can be severe.
Individuals who have been bitten by a dog are recommended to seek medical attention as soon as possible and return for a follow-up visit within 48 to 72 hours to ensure the wound doesn’t become infected.
Dog bite victims may experience a variety of physical consequences, as well as significant emotional and psychological distress in the wake of a dog bite incident. Depending on the age of the victim and the nature of the incident, these effects may be long-lasting and traumatic.
Types of injuries and other damages from dog bites in Florida might include:
- broken bones
- bite marks
- ongoing medical care
- physical therapy
- permanent scarring
- nerve injury
- traumatic brain injury
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
The resulting consequences of a dog bite incident can be mild to severe in nature, with the more serious cases resulting in disfigurement or death. According to research on dog bite injuries, these bites result in about 30 to 40 deaths in the United States each year.
Florida Dog Bite Laws
The state of Florida has strict dog bite laws in place to help protect the rights of individuals who are bitten by dogs and determine liability for dog bite incidents.
Like some other states, Florida is a “strict liability” state—a rule that provides guidance for the litigation process in dog bite injury cases.
Statutory Strict Liability
Florida’s strict liability rule for dog bites rules that dog owners can be held liable for damages caused by dog bites that occur in a public place, or on private property where the victim is lawfully visiting or invited. Invitations onto private property may be expressed or implied.
The statute in Florida that details dog owner liability also states that dog owners may be held liable for damages regardless of whether the dog owner had knowledge of the viciousness of the dog or its potential to attack another person.
Does Florida’s strict liability rule apply to all dog bite cases? Not exactly. Although this statute applies to most cases, this statute has a few exceptions.
For instances, strict liability rules may not apply under the following circumstances:
- when the dog bite victim was trespassing on property
- when the dog is a military or police dog performing its duties
- if there is an easily readable ‘Bad Dog’ sign on the owner’s property, unless:
- the victim is a child under the age of six
- the incident is directly caused by the dog owner’s negligence—which may be defined as a negligent act, or failure to act reasonably
- when the dog bite victim is found to be at least partially responsible for the incident
What If The Dog Was Provoked?
Provocation is another key consideration in determining dog bite liability. That is, if the dog was provoked by the victim—by way of taunting, poking, or aggravating the animal— the victim may have their amount of recoverable compensation reduced according to their percentage of blame for the incident. This is known as comparative negligence.
Comparative negligence is an exception to the strict liability rule that means the victim has been deemed partially liable for the incident and resulting injury.
Florida Dog Bite Personal Injury Claims
If you’re a Florida resident who’s been injured due to a dog bite, or are the parent of a child who’s been injured, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim against the dog owner for compensation.
This is the primary legal action injured victims can take to recover costs caused by the injury, and to seek justice for mental and emotional distress.
Florida residents who have lost a loved one to a fatal dog bite injury may also have the option of filing a wrongful death claim. This can help compensate surviving parents or spouses of victims for funeral and burial costs, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering.
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Statute Of Limitations For Dog Bite Claims
The statute of limitations for dog bite claims refers to the amount of time injured victims or surviving loved ones have to file a claim against a dog owner for damages.
In Florida, the statute of limitations for dog bite claims is up to four years from the date of the incident for personal injury, and up to two years for wrongful death.
Preventing Dog Bites
The Florida Department of Health shares several tips and suggestions on its website for Florida dog owners, as individuals who can play a vital role in preventing dog bite injuries and resulting consequences.
Dog bites are an important public health issue in the state of Florida. As such, it’s important for dog owners and individuals who are regularly in the company of dogs to be aware of dog bite prevention information.
If you’re a Florida dog owner, consider following these important safety tips:
- avoid playing aggressive games with your dog
- socialize your dog to help it become more comfortable around other dogs and people
- follow leash laws
- don’t leave your dog chained for long stretches of time
- provide adequate food and water for your dog
- develop a regular vaccination schedule with your veterinarian
- spay or neuter your dog
- don’t allow children or infants to play with dogs unsupervised
For Dog Bite Victims
If you’re a dog bite victim who is considering taking legal action against a dog owner for a bite-related injury, gathering evidence to prove that the owner was not following reasonable safety tips might help you build a strong case against the owner and increase your likelihood for recovering compensation.
Do I Need A Dog Bite Lawyer?
Taking legal action for personal injury caused by a dog bite incident can be time-consuming without the assistance of a legal professional.
In addition, legal cases against larger entities such as an employer (for worker’s compensation) or the government may also pose unique challenges, including the defendant’s broader access to legal and monetary resources to rebuke your claim or reduce your settlement amount.
Although having legal representation isn’t required to file a personal injury claim for a dog bite, consulting a dog bite lawyer is highly recommended.
At Florin|Roebig, our lawyers can offer you a free case evaluation to discuss the details of your case and help you determine whether you would benefit from having one of our lawyers represent you as you seek compensation for personal injury damages.
At Florin|Roebig, our dog bite injury lawyers can:
- assess the details of your case
- provide an estimated settlement value
- investigate the dog bite incident
- gather evidence to support your version of events
- interview witnesses and medical experts for testimony
- handle communications with the defendant and their legal representation
- fight for compensation that is not a penny less than you are owed based on the details of your case
- keep an open and clear line of communication with you every step of the way
Our dog bite lawyers have witnessed the physical, emotional, and financial costs these types of injuries can have on individuals and have extensive experience fighting for compensation on behalf of injured clients.
In addition, if you’re the surviving spouse or parent of someone fatally injured by a dog bite, our lawyers may be able to help you seek compensation for wrongful death. Our lawyers have a strong record of advocating for dog bite victims and their loved ones seeking justice.
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Contact A Florida Dog Bite Lawyer
If you’ve suffered injury from a vicious dog bite due to the negligence of the dog owner or another party, the lawyers of Florin|Roebig can help you seek compensation.
By filing a dog bite injury claim, our lawyers can help you recover general damages related to the incident, such as medical expenses, future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Don’t wait to get started on filing your personal injury or wrongful death claim today.
Contact the offices of Florin|Roebig to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our top-rated Florida dog bite lawyers to discuss the details of your case.