Dog Bites and Animal Attacks
Florida Dog Bite Lawyer
A Florida Dog Bite Lawyer Helps Animal Attack Victims Recover Just Compensation
Dog attacks can happen suddenly, with the dog’s aggression seeming to come out of nowhere. Even well-trained dogs can be unpredictable; and, in order to prevent unprovoked attacks, dog owners must ensure that their animals are leashed or fenced at all times. If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, it is important that you speak with a Florida dog bite lawyer as soon as possible.
At Searcy Denney, our personal injury team represents parents and dog bite victims throughout Florida. Florida’s dog bite law provides individuals who have been bitten with clear legal rights, and our lawyers are experienced in helping parents and victims recover just compensation. If you or your child has been bitten, one of our injury lawyers will be happy to explain your legal rights one-on-one, and we will use our experience to make sure you and your family receive the compensation you deserve.
Florida’s Dog Bite Statute Protects Child and Adult Victims
Different states have different rules regarding liability for dog attacks. Fortunately, Florida’s dog bite statute is particularly favorable for victims and their families. It protects both child and adult victims of dog attacks, and it does not excuse a dog’s first attack.
Florida’s Dog Bite Law Does Not Follow the “One Bite” Rule
Many states follow the “one bite” rule when it comes to liability for dog attacks. This rule says that a dog’s owner is not liable the first time the dog bites someone—under the theory that the owner may not have known that the dog was dangerous (there are often exceptions for certain circumstances and certain breeds). However, Florida’s dog bite statute does not follow the “one bite” rule. It states:
“The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place . . . is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.”
This is known as a “strict liability” standard, meaning that the dog’s owner is liable regardless of the dog’s history and regardless of whether the owner took reasonable steps to prevent the dog from biting.
In Florida, dog owners can only escape liability for dog bites if they place a prominent warning sign on their property that includes the word “Bad Dog” and the bite occurs on their property. However, this rule does not preclude liability if the dog bites a child under the age of six. If a dog bite victim provokes the dog into biting, then his or her ability to recover is not eliminated entirely, but rather is reduced in proportion to his or her percentage of fault in the attack.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Dog bites can cause various types of severe injuries. Even if a dog doesn’t bite, being knocked down by a dog can lead to injuries as well. Some of the most common types of injuries adults and children sustain from dog bites and dog attacks include:
- Deep puncture wounds
- Broken bones
- Ear injuries
- Eye injuries
- Facial lacerations and scars
- Neck and back injuries
- Nerve damage
- Tissue damage
The risk of infection is also a concern with dog bites. Even if a dog has been vaccinated against rabies, a bite can still potentially lead to bacterial infections including capnocytophaga, pasteurella, staph, strep and tetanus. Many dog attack victims experience emotional trauma as well and injuries from dog attacks will often leave victims struggling to cope with long-term pain and suffering.
What is the Dog Bite Scale for Injuries?
While there are several ways to assess the severity of a dog bite, one common measurement tool is Dr. Ian Dunbar’s Dog Bite Scale. This tool identifies six “levels” of dog bites:
- Level 1 – “Obnoxious or aggressive behavior but no skin-contact by teeth.”
- Level 2 – “Skin-contact by teeth but no skin-puncture.”
- Level 3 – “One to four punctures from a single bite with no puncture deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth.”
- Level 4 – “One to four punctures from a single bite with at least one puncture deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth.”
- Level 5 – “Multiple-bite incident with at least two Level 4 bites.”
- Level 6 – Dog bite incident resulting in the victim’s death.
According to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), “Levels 1 and 2 comprise well over 99% of dog incidents.” While this may be true, attacks resulting in punctures and other injuries are still very common. When these attacks happen, victims and their families deserve to be fully compensated, as the financial and non-financial costs of recovering from dog bite injuries can be substantial.
Understanding the Costs of Animal Attack Injuries
Regardless of the specific injuries a dog attack victim suffers, recovery can be a long, difficult and expensive process. Depending on the nature and severity of a victim’s injuries, necessary forms of treatment may include wound care, medications, surgeries, physical rehabilitation and counseling—among others.
Fortunately, Florida law allows dog bite victims and their families to recover just compensation for all of the financial and non-financial costs of their (or their loved ones’) attacks. Most cases involve claims under the dog owners’ insurance policies—homeowner’s insurance and renter’s insurance both typically cover dog attacks—but in some cases victims and families will have other types of claims as well.
In all cases, the types of losses dog bite victims and families in Florida may recover include:
- Medical bills
- Prescription and medical supply costs
- Therapy and counseling bills
- Other out-of-pocket costs
- Loss of income and earning capacity
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Post-traumatic stress and other forms of emotional trauma
- Loss of companionship, consortium, services and support
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Speak with a Florida Dog Bite Lawyer for Free
Have you or your child been seriously injured by a dog bite in Florida? If so, we encourage you to speak with one of our personal injury lawyers about filing a claim for just compensation. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at your convenience, please call 800-780-8607 or get in touch with us online today.