New Port Richey Dog Bite Lawyer
Dogs are called man’s best friend, and they did not come about that title “just because.” They earned the title – from companionship to service animals, to security animals, to K9 partners, dogs have earned that “collar.” Unfortunately, as integral as dogs have become to man, they also present a potential for danger.
The simple truth is that dogs bite, and depending on the severity of the attack, they inflict injuries that are either potentially life-threatening or life-altering. Aside from the physical injury a dog bite attack can inflict, the attack also causes trauma in its victims, and if it is severe enough, causes death.
Dogs may range from being cute and cuddly to stately and impressive. Still, they have one thing in common: they can deviate from their typical temperament and inflict unprecedented pain. They could do it either of instinct, fear, or a breach of territory, but they could. So what happens if you sustain an injury from a dog bite attack?
If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite injury, you may be entitled to recover compensation from the dog owner regardless of whether or not they did anything to protect you from being attacked.
Florida is a strict liability state, meaning the dog’s owner or controller is liable to you unless they have a valid defense. At Denmon Pearlman, a dog bite lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and what options are available to you.
Florida Dog Bite Statistics
A national study revealed that approximately 4.5 million people, or 1.5% of the total population, are bitten annually by dogs in the United States. Children under ten years of age, boys more so, are the likely victims. Other statistics are:
Approximately 19% of all dog bite victims require medical attention, and that in the United States, about 30-50 people are killed annually by dogs.
Unrestrained dogs (outside the owner’s property or off a leash) account for around one-third of all dog bites.
Most dog bites involving children are from a dog that is familiar to the family.
An average of two people dies from dog bite injuries in Florida each year.
Pit bulls and Rottweilers have been implicated in the majority of dog bite attacks across the United States.
Florida’s Dog Bite Law
Florida is a strict liability state when it comes to animal attacks and dog bites. This means that the owner of the dog is responsible for keeping their dog in all circumstances. Thus, a dog owner can be held liable if their dog attacks someone.
Some states have a one-bite rule which allows the dog owner to be free from liability if the dog had not had a prior record of aggression. Florida is not one of those states. In Florida, a dog owner can and will be held liable if their dog attacks someone, even if they were not previously aware of the dog’s aggressive nature.
Another thing that strict liability ensures is that you do not need to prove that the dog owner was negligent when filing your suit as a victim of a dog bite attack. It is enough that the dog bit you – as long as you were either in a public place or lawfully on private property.
Can I Sue a Dog Owner for the Dog’s Attack?
In Florida, you can sue a dog owner for their dog attacking you. You can hold them accountable both criminally and civilly, depending on the specifics of your case.
Under Florida’s strict liability statute, you must be either in a public place or legally on a private resident to hold a dog owner accountable for the dog’s attack. However, you can also be injured by a dog attack under circumstances other than these. If that is the case, the strict liability statute may prevent you from suing for damages.
You may still be able to bring a personal injury claim against the owner under Common law. In this case, you will have to prove that the owner of the dog acted negligently or failed to use reasonable care, thus causing you to be injured.
Under common law, you may be able to recover damages through one of the following claims:
you may file a negligence claim against a dog owner if they failed to provide the same level of care another reasonable person would have provided in similar circumstances.
Negligence per se:
quite different from negligence, an owner may be held liable for negligence per se if they violated statutes or regulations that are put in place to ensure the safety and protection of members of the public.
this is a legal term that refers to intent or knowledge of wrongdoing. In dog bite cases, it is also known as “the one-bite rule”, where anyone that knew of the dog’s history of aggression or attempted bites may be held liable for damages.
as the name implies, you may file an intentional tort claim, such as assault, if the owner of the dog intentionally set the dog on you to attack you.
If you or your loved one has suffered injuries from a dog bite attack, contact our New Port Richey personal injury lawyers at Denmon Pearlman today. We will walk through the details of your case with you and help you determine what legal options are available to you.
Why Do Dogs Attack People?
Several studies have been carried out with the intent of finding out why dogs attack people. The following reasons were discovered:
- There was no non-disabled person present to intervene when the dog started displaying aggression.
- The victim was a stranger to the dog and was interacting with the dog during an inappropriate time***
- The dog was not neutered or spayed by its owner.
- The victim could not correctly manage interactions with the dog due to either their age or physical condition, or both
- The dog was kept as a resident dog rather than as a family pet
- The owner had been mismanaging the dog
- The owner had been abusing or neglecting the dog
Interacting with a dog during an inappropriate time includes activities such as:
- Interrupting the dog while it’s eating
- Roughhousing with the dog, including taking toys away while playing
- Forcing interaction by handling or moving the dog against its will
Injuries in a Dog Bite Accident
Most times, dog bite injuries cause severe discomforts to their victims, and it often takes a long time to recover from them. Additionally, recovering from severe dog bites typically requires different medical services, which cost a lot of money. Common injuries sustained in a dog bite attack are:
Depending on the breed of the dog and its pound per square inch (psi), a measure of the bite power of the dog, a dog bite victim may suffer bone fractures in the legs, arms, hands, and/or skull.
Injuries to the Eyes:
This includes corneal abrasions, eye tissue damage, hemorrhaging, and if severe enough, may lead to the loss of an eye. Eye injuries are severe because they require specialized medical attention to salvage the eye where possible and prevent permanent loss.
Scarring on the Face:
this is an expected fallout of dog attacks, and its management can cost an arm and a leg. This is because facial scarring can require reconstructive surgery, which is not a cheap procedure and is sometimes not covered by health insurance. In addition to the need for reconstructive surgery, a victim with facial scarring may need counseling to deal with the emotional trauma of having a facial scar.
Due to the multitude of bacteria present in a dog’s mouth at any given time, the risk of a dog bite victim getting infected from the bite is very high. Puncture wounds, lacerations, or breaks to the skin can become infected with infections like Rabies or Tetanus. These infections can cause serious health complications and even death in extreme cases.
Apart from the injuries the dog’s teeth may inflict, a dog bite victim may fall when the dog attacks and suffer lacerations to some parts of the body. These also carry the risk of infections and/or scarring.
This is severe because the victim can continue to suffer its effects long after the actual dog bite wound heals. The breed of the dog and the severity of the attack can severely damage the nerves at the attack site. The effect of nerve damage can be continuous immense pain at the site of the bite or paralysis in extreme cases. Aside from the pain of nerve damage, it can require thorough medical treatments, which are expensive and affect a person’s ability to work.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):
The physical distress brought on by dog bite attacks may also result in mental and emotional distress, anxiety, or depression. This type of injury exerts a terrible toll not only on victims but their families as well.
What is the Average Settlement for a Dog Bite Case in Florida?
In 2018, Florida had the second-highest in dog bite claims, adding up to over 56 million dollars. The average cost per claim was $43,893. You could get more than this or less, depending on the specifics of your case.
Sometimes, the settlement for a dog bite attack is paid out by the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy. No two dog bite claims are the same, even when the injuries appear to be similar. However, the amount of damages you are awarded in a dog bite attack lawsuit depends on the extent of your physical and psychological injuries.
You can get compensated for your medical expenses, lost income, and any property damage that happened during the attack. This type of compensation is referred to as economic damages. You can also get compensated for your pain and suffering, emotional distress, post-traumatic stress disorder, and future lost income. This type of compensation is referred to as non-economic damages.
Our New Port Richey dog bite injury attorneys at Denmon Pearlman believe that you should not settle cheaply when you can get more. We will negotiate with the relevant insurance company on your behalf to get you the best settlement amount possible.
If settlement talks fail, we will not hesitate to take the battle to the courtroom and, of course, return a highly satisfactory award for you.
What If I Am the Dog Owner Facing a Dog Bite Liability Suit?
Knowing that your cute and dependable friend just caused pain to another person is a worrisome affair. You are most likely stressed out, replaying the scene over and over again, looking for ways in which you could have prevented the attack from happening. If this was the first time your dog did something like this, you are probably fighting disbelief as “Sasha has never done this before!”.
You are also probably worried about the fallout from the attack, chief of which is the lawsuit. Since you are a dog owner in Florida, there are some defenses available to you, depending on the circumstances of the attack. They include trespassing and comparative negligence.
If a person was present on a private property unlawfully, the person would be guilty of trespass and cannot hold you liable for being attacked by your dog. Thus, they would not be able to collect damages from you for a dog bite injury.
Note, though, that private property in this context means a privately-owned home or piece of land. If the dog bite attack happened on business property, even if it is your private business, you may still be held liable if the attack victim was a client or customer. In this context, the person was not trespassing as he or she was on your premises lawfully.
To employ the defense of comparative negligence, the dog bite must have occurred due to the other party’s negligence, even if it happened on your property. The attack could have happened due to the dog being provoked in ways ranging from the person harassing the dog while she was eating, or roughhousing with her, or accidentally stepping on her tail, or tripping over it.
In this case, the total damages would be split between you and the victim depending on the degree of fault accrued to each party. Thus, you will only pay the percentage of damages accrued to you.
Other Types of Defenses in a Dog Bite Liability Lawsuit
Aside from the above defenses, you may employ a couple of other defenses when facing a dog bite liability lawsuit. They are:
- Protection against criminal activity: If your dog bit the victim while he or she was committing a crime against you or your property, you may be able to employ this fact as a defense to any injury claim.
- Assumption of risk: This defense works best if the victim was a staff member, say, a veterinary clinic, who was bitten while they were examining or treating a dog. In this case, the plaintiff will be deemed to have expressly accepted the possibility of injury by working in a veterinary clinic. Thus, the assumption of risk defense is applied when a person may be deemed to have accepted the risk of a dog bite attack in the course of their activities.
- Police and military dogs: Dogs of the K9 variety used for active duty in police work are exempted from dog bite liability lawsuits.
- Clear warning sign: the owner prominently displayed an easily readable sign with the words “Bad Dog” written legibly on it.
If you are facing a dog bite liability lawsuit as a Florida dog owner, our New Port Richey dog bite attorneys at Denmon Pearlman can help you.
We will review your case and let you know your legal rights as a Florida dog owner.
Should I Get a New Port Richey Dog Bite Lawyer?
It would be best if you got a lawyer for a dog bite attack. With an experienced New Port Richey dog bite attack attorney in your corner, you are 400% more likely to end up with a better settlement – as much as three to five times better.
What’s more? When you decide to work with our experienced trial lawyers at Denmon Pearlman, we will fight for your rights without any upfront payment.
We will also prepare you for everything right from the beginning so that nothing catches you by surprise. We have learned that our settlements are much more significant when we move with speed. Thus you can be assured that there will be no dilly-dallying when we set out to get you your monetary retribution. Reach out to us today at 1-727-753-0049 to schedule a free consultation.