Injuries from dog attacks can be serious and costly. People of any age may experience emotional trauma, sleep loss, general trepidation and extreme fear of dogs following an attack. It is critical for anyone who has suffered a serious dog bite injury to seek medical attention right away, then contact a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer. An attorney will assist you through the chaos following the injury including collection and analysis of medical records, negotiation with the dog owners and their insurance company representatives. An experienced trial lawyer stays current with legislative and case law updates and may be able to obtain a higher money judgment at trial by bringing attention to both economic and noneconomic damages including such issues as emotional distress, scaring, disfigurement, and loss of income.
Holding Careless Dog Owners Responsible
In earlier times, when a dog bit someone once, the owner was put on notice that the dog was vicious. The owner was then held responsible to pay for any harm later caused by their dog. This legal rule was called the “one-bite” rule. This is no longer the rule due to updates by Florida’s courts and legislature based on the community’s belief that “one bite is too many.”
Pursuant to Florida Statutes §767.04 the owner of any dog that bites any person is liable for damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness. An owner may avoid liability in Florida by displaying in a prominent place on his premises a sign easily readable, including the words “Bad Dog.”
Most dogs are presumed to be harmless unless they show a dangerous propensity. However, dog owners are expected to have knowledge of dangerous or vicious dispositions in their dogs. Dog owners are given the freedom to possess even dangerous dogs, but precautions must be taken. If a dog is vicious by nature, and a dog owner allows others to come near it without warning of the dog’s temperament, the owner will be held liable. An owner of a dangerous dog is also liable if he lets the dog loose in public, in the State of Florida.
Prior bites or attempted bites, even in play, are evidence that the dog is dangerous by nature. Some state laws impose liability on a dog owner even if he had no knowledge of the animal’s dangerous disposition.
If the owner of the dog is not present during an attack, but the dog is being kept by a third person, such as a veterinarian or at a dog kennel, the person watching the dog at the time may be held liable instead.
For example, if the dog was provoked by kicking or striking, teasing or tormenting, or attacking the owner in the dog’s presence, the dog owner may not be held responsible. Petting or playing with a dog is not usually considered provocation, unless the victim was warned not to do so. However, a child may not be expected to know not to provoke a dog, depending on his or her age.
If a dog owner is held responsible for an injury from a dog bite, the owner will be required to pay for treatment of all of the injuries caused by the animal, plus compensatory damages for pain and suffering, scaring and disfigurement and loss of income. In addition, the owner may have to pay punitive damages, which is money required to punish the owner, if he knew about the vicious nature of the dog. If a dog is found to be extremely vicious, a court may require that the dog be put to death.
Dog Attacks Can Be Extremely Stressful For Children And Adults
It is important to have a skilled attorney to ensure that your family is fully compensated for all consequences of the attack. It is also important to keep good medical records, take pictures immediately of the injury, and if you can obtain them of the dog and the area where the attack took place. You should also immediately contact the health department and animal control and advise them of the incident so the dog is quarantined and checked for rabies.
Our Law Firm’s Experience With Dog Bites
My firm has significant experience in handling dog bite cases and has obtained some of the largest recoveries in the state of Florida. Should you have any questions, please contact me at 305-373-7789 or email me your questions.