A dog attack can be terrifying and traumatic. Unfortunately, many dog bite victims are young children. Even as an adult, this type of attack can leave you rattled and psychologically harmed. Even if the dog is owned by someone you know, the aggressive behavior may have been completely unexpected.
If you were bitten or otherwise injured by a dog that was not your own, you should contact our lawyers to see what your options are. You may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries. For a free case review with the experienced Florida and Georgia lawyers at Kelleher Law, please call 833-546-3675.
In the meantime, please browse the following topics to learn more:
- Dog Bite Injuries
- What to Do After a Dog Attack
- Who Is Liable?
- Insurance and Dog Bites
- How Long You Have to File a Claim
- Dog Attack Compensation
- Dog Bite Statistics
- How to Pursue Compensation
Dog Bite Injuries
Injuries caused by the attacks can be excruciatingly painful and traumatic when they occur. They may also lead to lasting damage, impairment, and expensive medical care. Here are some of the injuries we commonly see in these claims:
- Broken bones
- Crushed bones
- Back and neck injuries
- Life-threatening infections
- Nerve damage
- Muscle damage
- Emotional trauma
The emergency care and ongoing medical treatment for these injuries can be very expensive. The nature of some of these injuries may make it impossible for you to return to your job. These things together can lead to a lot of financial losses and strife. And, at the same time you are dealing with these financial issues, you may also be dealing with disfiguring injuries that cause you emotional and physical pain. For all of these things and others, you deserve compensation.
What to Do After a Dog Attack
After a dog attack, here is a list of general things you should do, although each situation will certainly have its own unique factors at play:
- Get the dog owner's information, if possible. If you have emergency medical needs, that should be your one and only concern. But if you are able, you should make sure you can identify the dog owner. Get their name and contact information if you don't know them. Is the owner the person who was in custody of the dog at the time of the attack?
- Get medical attention. Your health and well-being are the priority. Get medical care promptly, or immediately if you think it is an emergency. Dog bite injuries can be particularly serious even if it looks like a small flesh wound – the bacteria in a dog's mouth can cause a severe infection under your skin. Make sure you have your injuries looked at even if you don't think they are serious.
- Photograph the injuries. If you are able, use your phone to take pictures of your injuries, any torn clothing, or any other things that are relevant to what happened. These pictures can be really helpful while resolving your claim.
- Record anything you think is relevant in a journal. Keep a Word document, use your phone's notes app, or any other means of writing down what you remember. Write down what you remember happening in the moments leading up to the attack, as well as the aftermath. Where were you when the attack occurred? Was the owner present? What type of medical care did you need? What kind of prognosis did your doctor provide? All of these things and anything else that occurs to you should be recorded in your journal.
- Call our attorneys. The dog owner, their insurance company, or other parties may contact you shortly after the attack. Make sure you talk to our lawyers as soon as possible so that you know what to say when these people call you. Saying the wrong thing can hurt your chances of pursuing and obtaining compensation.
Rabies, MRSA, and tetanus are just a few of the serious diseases that can be caused by a dog bite. It's important to arrange a doctor's visit after the incident. Immediately after the attack, you should wash the wound with soap.
If you receive a call or are contacted in some other way by the dog owner's insurance representative, you should think twice about accepting any offers or discussing who was at fault. These things will end your ability to pursue a claim for maximum compensation. Talk to our lawyers first, to find out what you should say when the insurance company contacts you.
Who Is Liable?
Most often, the dog's owner is responsible and liable for any bites or attacks committed by their dog. Florida's statute regarding dog bites essentially makes the owner liable if a bite occurs, whether or not the owner had prior knowledge of a history of viciousness.
There are a couple of exceptions. If you were trespassing, the owner may not be responsible for the attack. The owner may also not be responsible for bites that occur on their property if a sign displaying "Bad Dog," "Beware of Dog" or similar, is posted. Although if the victim is under the age of 6, then the sign doesn't release the owner from liability.
If it is determined that your own negligence was in any way involved in the attack, then any compensation award obtained may be reduced accordingly.
Issues of liability, and who was at fault to what extent, can quickly become complex. The experienced attorneys at Kelleher Law know how to review your claim to determine who was responsible and how it affects your case.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Dog Bite Injury in Florida?
In Florida, victims of dog bites have the option to take legal action for up to four years after the attack occurs. It is best to take action before the statute of limitations approaches. Waiting to file can cause delays in needed compensation and may complicate the process.
If a dog has attacked you or someone you love, use the contact form on this page or call our Naples or Ft. Myers office to schedule a free case review and learn more about your rights.
Are Any Breeds Illegal in Florida?
There are no breed restriction laws in Florida. However. Any dog can be defined as “dangerous” under Florida Statute. According to ss. 767.10-767.16, a “Dangerous Dog” is defined as any that:
(a) Has aggressively bitten, attacked, or endangered or has inflicted severe injury on a human being on public or private property;
(b) Has more than once severely injured or killed a domestic animal while off the owner’s property; or
(c) Has, when unprovoked, chased or approached a person upon the streets, sidewalks, or any public grounds in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack, provided that such actions are attested to in a sworn statement by one or more persons and dutifully investigated by the appropriate authority.
Florida statute holds that dangerous dogs must be securely confined in an enclosure from which they cannot escape but are still protected from the elements.
What are the Most Dangerous Breeds of Dog?
The five most deadly dogs are pit bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, mixed-breed, and American Bulldogs. Studies have found that attacks from these breeds result in the highest number of fatal injuries.
However, the most deadly breeds are not always the most likely to bite. Breeds that commonly bite include Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, Border Collies, and Jack Russel Terriers. Of course, injury from smaller dogs may not be as profound or deadly, but an attack from any breed can result in medical bills and long-term emotional suffering and trauma.
Can an Owner be Held Criminally Liable When a Dangerous Dog Causes Injury or Death?
Yes. When an animal that has previously been identified as dangerous attacks someone, the owner can be charged with a felony under Florida State Law. However, criminal charges will not provide the type of compensation to victims that dog attacks demand.
Regardless of the criminality of an attack, taking action through a personal injury lawsuit is the best way to seek compensation.
What Happens to Dogs That Attack People?
Dogs that attack people may be impounded. In addition, the state may choose to euthanize when the injuries are severe or the animal has previously been identified as dangerous. These decisions are not impacted by a personal injury claim and will occur outside of civil proceedings.
Insurance and Dog Bites
If you were bitten, you may be wondering if the owner's insurance would be a source of injury compensation. It's possible. If the attack occurred on the dog owner's property or in their home, then their homeowner's insurance may have some coverage for a situation like this. Or, if the attack occurred in a vehicle, it's possible there is coverage within the auto insurance policy.
Another issue that should be mentioned is that of workers' compensation. If you were bitten by a dog in the course of your work duties – delivering a package, installing cable in someone's home, etc. – then you may have a workers' comp claim. Workers' compensation insurance provides payment for medical care and replacement of lost wages, in the event you are injured while doing your job; however, your presence at the premises where the attack occurred must have been lawful.
If you were bitten while doing your job, you may also be able to bring a claim against the owner, in addition to receiving benefits through workers' compensation. Consult our attorneys to see if this is possible in your case.
Dog Bite Compensation
As your attorneys, our job is to fight for full and adequate compensation on your behalf. While we cannot guarantee any outcome, we can assure you that our job is not complete until we have reached the best possible results for you.
After a serious dog attack, you will be facing immediate and long-term consequences from your injury:
- Medical bills
- Future related medical expenses
- Loss of wages
- Physical rehabilitation costs
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Mental anguish
It is all of these things and others that we seek compensation for. While a dollar amount may be somewhat easily attached to a medical bill, things like pain and suffering are less obvious in terms of dollars and cents. But we work to demonstrate the extent to which these things have affected your life, and argue for maximum compensation.
How Long You Have to File a Claim
Time is of the essence. Contact us as soon as possible to learn more about your claim. There is no obligation in doing so, and no cost.
There are deadlines for filing injury claims, known as statutes of limitation. These laws determine the amount of time from the date of injury that a claim can be filed. Call us to find out if your claim is eligible. We know all of the relevant Florida statutes.
Dog Bite Statistics
The following are dog bite statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- 4.5 million dog bites occur in the U.S. each year
- 1 in 5 bites become infected
- Men are more likely to be bitten than women
- Children are more likely to be bitten than adults
- Among children, those age 5 to 9 have the highest rate of dog bite injuries
The CDC reports that more than half of all dog bite injuries occur at home and involve a dog the victim knows.
How to Pursue Compensation
If you or a loved one was injured in a dog attack, please contact the experienced dog bite lawyers at Kelleher Law at 833-546-3675. We have offices in Naples, Fort Myers, and Atlanta. We proudly fight on behalf of injury victims from across Florida and Georgia. We tirelessly pursue compensation on behalf of dog bite victims.