Nearly 4.5 million people are victims of dog bites every year in the United States. Year after year, Florida has ranked among the states with the highest number of dog bite cases in the country. Coupling this with the number and severity of the injuries, it only makes sense to know what you should do in case of a dog bite.
If you or a family member has sustained a dog bite injury in Kissimmee, Florida, you’re probably wondering what legal options there are. At Ward Law Group, we have experienced personal injury attorneys who offer effective legal representation services for those who have suffered dog bite injuries. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions our attorneys get from clients who’ve suffered dog bite injuries.
Is it possible to sue for a dog bite in Florida?
A dog bite can scar you emotionally and physically for life. It can cause deep wounds, nerve and muscle damage, facial lacerations, and bacterial infections that put you at risk for sepsis and rabies, leading to organ failure or death.
You have a high chance of being compensated if a dog has bitten you or someone you know due to Florida’s strict liability standard for dog owners. According to Florida’s Statute 767.04, if a dog bites you while you are lawfully on a private site or public property, the owner of the dog is liable for your injuries.
So, in short, yes, it is possible to sue for a dog bite in Florida. It is among the states with the highest number of dog bite claims per year. However, just like all other personal injury claims, dog bite claims are very complex. To make a legal claim in a dog bite case, you are supposed to identify the dog’s owner, what property they own, and then find out if they have insurance that will cover it.
On top of that, you have to look at their homeowners’ policies to see if they cover all types of dog bites or not. When involved in personal injury cases, most people don’t usually know where to begin, which is why you need to involve an attorney immediately.
Are you entitled to get compensation for a dog bite injury if a dog bites you?
Suffering dog bite injuries entitle you to financial compensation. Therefore, it’s within your rights to take legal action if you or a loved one suffers a dog bite injury.
Unlike other states, Florida operates under a “strict liability” in dog bite cases. Meaning that if a dog bites you and you seek compensation, you do not have to prove that the dog owner was negligent. In dog bite cases, dog owners are “strictly liable” for all the actions of their animals.
Also, Florida differs from other states in that it does not matter if the owner knows that the dog can attack someone or not, or if it is the first time; the owner is liable regardless.
Despite being “strictly liable,” dog owners may not be liable under several circumstances, including:
A dog owner might be absolved from liability if there was contributory negligence on your part. If the dog owner can convince the judge or jury in a court of law that you were partly to blame for the attack by actions such as provoking the dog, your compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you.
For example, if you or your family member was 50% at fault, the compensation amount is halved. Contributory negligence is a way for the dog owner to reduce the amount of compensation they owe you. The negligent party or their insurance agent may attempt to place some of the blame on you to minimize the amount they have to pay.
If you were unlawfully on private property before being attacked by a dog, the owner might not be held responsible for the dog bite. Being lawfully on the property means being implicitly or explicitly invited by the owner; otherwise, your actions may be considered trespassing.
Prominently displayed sign
According to the Florida dog bite statute, one is not liable for the injuries caused by their dog on their property if there is a prominently displayed warning sign on the premises.
However, even with a prominently displayed sign, dog owners may still be liable in personal injury cases if:
- Their dog was not properly restrained.
- The owner was negligent.
- The animal attack involved a person under the age of six.
Although there are circumstances when the dog owner may claim to be not liable, you should not always take their word for it. Instead, reach out to us at Ward Law Group for a free consultation. We will help you determine who’s to blame and how much compensation you’re rightfully owed.
What is the average settlement amount for a dog bite in the state of Florida?
There’s no average settlement amount for a dog bite in Florida. The settlement amount you receive will vary depending on several factors, including the severity of the injury, amount of evidence presented, and the competence of your personal injury attorney to negotiate a settlement. Stronger presentation of evidence in support of someone’s dog bite injuries in a court of law often results in higher compensation for their injuries.
Although there’s no average Florida settlement amount you may receive from your dog bite injuries, typical recoverable damages in a dog bite settlement payout may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Loss of income
- Punitive damages
- Property damage
While some damages of an animal attack, such as lost wages and medical expenses, are easy to calculate for dog bite settlement purposes, calculating the cost of the pain and suffering experienced by a dog bite victim is much more challenging. For that reason, you should seek the expertise of a personal injury attorney in Kissimmee to prevent the defendant’s insurance company from offering you a settlement far less than what you deserve.
If you are a USPS, Amazon, UPS, or FedEx worker bitten by a dog, can you make a claim?
Yes, you can, but the animal attack must have occurred in front of the house. After seeking medical attention, your insurer will pay all your medical expenses. Once compensation is received, you will be required to reimburse your insurer the full amount they used in your medical expenses.
What if I get rabies from a dog bite?
Infected dogs can expose people, livestock, and pets to rabies, typically through bites and scratches. Although it’s rare for people to die of rabies, it’s still essential to seek immediate medical attention after a dog bite.
In Florida, dog owners who fail to obey laws requiring rabies vaccinations can be liable for any resulting damages if their dog bites a person. If you suffer from rabies disease, the losses would be considerable. Even though you simply had to undergo rabies treatment, the suffering, inconvenience, and anxiety of worrying about the possibility of dying from rabies disease could result in a significant level of damages.
What if I'm on vacation when I'm bit by a dog?
If you’re on vacation in Florida, the dog owner is automatically liable for any injury or property damage the dog causes. If you’re on vacation in another state, it’s important to review their dog bite laws to find out whether you’re eligible for compensation or not, as laws vary from one state to another.
What if I'm bit by a dog whose owner is on vacation?
If a dog owner goes on vacation and leaves their dog with a friend or someone else, and the dog bites someone, the person who’s left with the dog may be liable as a “keeper.” Nevertheless, the dog owner is still the pet’s primary caregiver, so they may still be held responsible, too.
What if I'm bit by a stray dog in Kissimmee?
If the vicious dog roaming about your neighborhood has no known owner, you may still be able to get compensation based on the circumstances of the attack. For instance, if you were on public property, the City of Kissimmee might have liability over the dog bite incident.
Liability could also be assigned if the attack occurred due to the city’s negligence to maintain a safe neighborhood. If another person had formerly reported the dangerous stray to the city’s animal control office, yet no one tried to catch the animal, the government could be liable for an attack.
If a dog runs towards you and you fall and get injured, is the dog at fault? Can you file a claim?
Yes, you can file a claim in Kissimmee, Florida. If their homeowners’ policy does not exclude dogs, the owner is liable. You have to prove that the dog caused your fall and subsequent injuries.
How long do you have to file a dog bite claim?
In Florida, you have four years from the day of the animal attack to file a claim. The first thing to do after a dog bite is to contact the police. A police report can help you strengthen your dog bite claim should you seek compensation.
The second vital step to make after the accident is to seek medical treatment as quickly as possible, whether you’ve sustained severe or minor injuries. Dog bite wounds are very susceptible to dangerous infections, which is why you must seek medical attention immediately.
To avoid complications, you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as you can. Take plenty of photos of the injury and the attack location, and save all the medical receipts, documents, and evidence pertinent to the incident. Most importantly, do not speak on the record without your attorney.
Our Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys are Ready to Help
If you or someone you know has suffered a dog bite, you should seek professional legal advice. If you don’t have a personal injury attorney yet, Ward Law Group will prove invaluable to the success of your case. If you have sustained dog bite-related injuries in the Kissimmee area, contact us today for a free consultation.