In Florida, as in many states, dog owners are responsible for the actions and behaviors of their pets regardless of its previous behavior. That means the defense of “he’s never done that before!” will not stand up in court after a Fort Lauderdale dog bite and does not block a victim from seeking fair and comprehensive compensation for damages incurred from an attack. If you have been attacked by someone’s dog, then you may be entitled to compensation provided that you did not provoke the dog.
Depending on a number of factors, you may either need to seek compensation directly from the dog owner or file a claim with their insurance company to receive compensation for your damages. Regardless of who you are seeking payment from, you can be certain that there will be substantial resistance to paying you what you are rightfully owed. This is why working with a personal injury attorney is such an important step to take after you or a family member suffers a dog bite.
Contact Bernheim Kelley Battista & Bliss For a Free Consultation Today
Request a free, no-obligation consultation with our legal team so you can learn more about your rights as a victim in this unfortunate situation. Dog bites can be terrifying and can lead to significant emotional and mental issues as well as the many physical issues common following these vicious attacks. Each of these specific impacts entitles you to additional compensation that our team will work to calculate and negotiate for on your behalf. The first step is to contact us so we can discuss your situation and get a better sense of how we can work together.
During our free consultation, you will be able to go over the details of your Fort Lauderdale dog attack so we can provide you with specific insights and ultimately give you a better idea of what the future may hold for you. We will not be able to answer questions like how long it will take to get you the money you deserve or exactly how much we believe you are owed. But we will be able to give you peace of mind knowing that there is an experienced team of dog bite attorneys willing to fight for the money you deserve.
Florida Dog Bite Laws
Florida Statutes 767.04 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, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.”
The statute goes on to address the matter of comparative fault, making it clear that “any negligence on the part of the person bitten that is a proximate cause of the biting incident reduces the liability of the owner of the dog by the percentage that the bitten person’s negligence contributed to the biting incident.”
Dog Owners Are Responsible For Their Pets’ Behaviors
What this statute essentially says is that a person is entitled to damages through a dog bite injury claim in the event that they are attacked by a dog while lawfully on private property, but if they provoked the attack, then the degree to which they provoked it will factor into the final amount that they are awarded. This is known as pure comparative fault, and it is used in nearly all personal injury cases. Dog bite lawyers understand this law intimately and will work to ensure that it does not unnecessarily impact your case.
Provoking an Attack Reduces or Eliminates a Victims Rights to Compensation
In the event of a dog attack, Florida law may place full responsibility on a victim that was lawfully on the dog owner’s property but provoked the attack by causing fear or pain to the animal. Provocation does not bar a victim from seeking damages, but due to the nature of pure comparative fault, they may ultimately be awarded nothing if they are found to be 100% responsible for the encounter. Dog attacks are complex, and working with an experienced dog bite lawyer is one of the best ways to ensure that your story is accurately presented to the insurers, judge, and/or jury as you seek compensation through your dog bite claim for injuries caused by a dangerous animal.
What To Do After a Dog Bite
After a dog bite, the most important thing to do is to stay safe and make sure that you get medical care as soon as possible. Calling 911 is the best way to make sure that you get prompt medical care, along with some other secondary benefits that come with this decision. A dog owner may try to convince you to handle the situation directly, but by calling 911, you are ensuring that they are not able to change their story after the fact, that you have clear documentation in the form of a police report, and that the EMTs can inspect your injuries and provide you with treatment recommendations.
If possible, take pictures and video of the scene. In the video, narrate important details such as the events leading up to the attack, how you came to encounter the animal, and any factors that will be helpful as you look back on this situation and try to piece together important details. When you hire a personal injury attorney, this initial documentation will help provide a clearer understanding of the attack. Otherwise, your memory might fade, and you could forget important details about the situation.
Once you have been examined by EMTs and have spoken to the police at the scene, either be sure to follow up with your primary care physician or take an ambulance to the emergency room if the EMTs recommend it. Keep in mind that you and your personal injury attorney will be able to seek compensation for the ambulance ride, among a number of other damages, after the fact. The sole focus of the immediate aftermath of a dog attack should be your immediate safety and getting the medical care that you need.
Once your medical needs are addressed, we highly encourage you to contact our law firm to connect with an attorney. Your top focus should be your recovery, and once a member of our team starts representing you through your legal process, you will be able to give your entire focus to your personal needs without taking on the added emotional baggage of handling a personal injury claim.
Damages Associated With Fort Lauderdale Dog Bites
Dog bite claims are handled like all other personal injury cases in many ways, but additional factors go into these types of claims. The emotional repercussions of suffering from an attack by a dangerous dog can leave a victim traumatized for years to come, and no amount of money can take back the injuries or erase the memory of the attack. However, Fort Lauderdale dog bite lawyers can fight to get you the money you deserve to ensure that you don’t take on the financial consequences of someone else’s dangerous dogs.
Insurance companies prefer to focus on economic damages because they are the easiest to identify, and the ones that inexperienced claimants often think make up the entirety of their claim. Economic damages are all the effects of a personal injury that have set dollar values associated with them, such as lost wages, medical bills, and the cost to repair or replace personal property damaged or destroyed during the attack. Additionally, Florida law includes possible future costs in these damages, meaning that future medical bills, possible future impacts to your earnings, and more should all be included in these types of damages.
While these are important costs to recover, your medical bills and lost wages only tell a small part of the overall story of the impacts a Fort Lauderdale dog bite victim suffers.
Non-economic damages are the impacts of a Fort Lauderdale dog attack that do not have set or measurable dollar values associated with them. The most common non-economic damages are things like the actual pain and suffering that a victim endures from an attack, as well as the emotional trauma that such a violent attack can cause. As you can imagine, assigning a dollar value to something as abstract as “trauma” can be difficult, so working with a Fort Lauderdale dog bite lawyer to understand how the Florida Statutes allow victims to seek financial compensation for these impacts is essential.
Insurance companies are typically more difficult to deal with when trying to reach an agreement about non-economic damages. That is because a Fort Lauderdale claimant who is not partnered with a dog bite lawyer generally does not understand the process of identifying, quantifying, calculating, and negotiating those damages. We can discuss the ways that we can support you through this process during our free consultation so you can understand the benefits of working with a dog bite lawyer.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Dog bite injuries can range from minor abrasions to serious injuries like deep lacerations, infections, blood loss, and disfiguration that may require extensive reconstructive surgery to fix. The following is a list of common dog bite injuries in Fort Lauderdale, but whether or not you see your dog bite injury listed below, contact our Fort Lauderdale law office as soon as possible. You can connect with an experienced attorney who can help you make sense of your situation.
Puncture wounds are arguably the most common types of dog bite injuries because dog bite victims have their skin punctured by the strong force of a dog’s jaws and teeth during an attack. Puncture wounds can lead to serious blood loss, infection, and many other complications.
The bacteria in a dog’s mouth can lead to infections after a Fort Lauderdale dog bite, so it is extremely important that the wounds are cleaned and disinfected thoroughly and repeatedly, dressed with antiseptic, and monitored to ensure that they do not worsen over time. Insurance companies will try to avoid paying for medical treatment for infections by saying that they are the result of the injury victims failing to treat their injuries properly. However, your Fort Lauderdale dog bite lawyer will fight to recover compensation for every injury you have suffered.
Broken bones are less common in dog bite cases involving adults than in cases involving children because children have smaller bones that can suffer from serious injury from an animal attack. Broken bones after a Fort Lauderdale dog bite must be treated immediately to ensure that they are properly reset and are able to heal in the correct position. Broken bones can be extremely painful throughout recovery — not to mention that they are a significant inconvenience.
Nerve damage is another common issue in Florida dog bite cases because when dogs bite, they get a firm grip on their bite victims and shake their heads aggressively. This can lead to tearing of the skin and soft tissue and may disrupt the nerves in the bite area. Even after recovery, bite victims may have issues with sensation for years to come, and an experienced Fort Lauderdale dog bite attorney will work to quantify these effects while seeking compensation from the dog’s owner or their representative insurance company.
Facial injuries from a dog bite can lead to serious medical expenses due to the need for plastic surgery or reconstructive measures to cover the damage that dog bite victims may suffer if they are disfigured in the incident with the bad dog. Dog bite lawyers understand how to seek financial compensation for the cost of medical attention and the significant emotional consequences that a victim may experience.
When you are working with a dog bite lawyer on a dog bite claim, they will work to identify the wide range of emotional and psychological injuries you have endured as well as the physical injuries that are easier to prove. Trying to prove emotional injuries is difficult, and trying to reach a legitimate dollar value for these injuries is even more complicated, but we can help you understand this process during our free case evaluation.
Rabies is a major concern after an attack by an aggressive dog because it can be transmitted to dog bite victims. After dog bites, seeking medical attention should be a victim’s top priority, and getting tested and, if necessary, treated for rabies should be the absolute first order of business.
A total of 1 rabid dog was reported in the state of Florida in 2019, in Taylor County. While this indicates that rabies is not common in dogs, it is important to understand that this is still a significant issue that must be taken seriously.