Being bitten by a dog can be a very scary experience — and it appears to be more common than you think. In a recent report from the Insurance Information Institute, residents across the state of Florida submitted about 1,268 claims for dog bites or other dog-related injuries in 2019 alone.
If you have been unfortunate enough to have been bitten or attacked by a dog, you are well within your rights to file an injury claim against the owner of the dog. Even if your injury claim has been denied, a knowledgeable Florida personal injury can help fight the insurance provider's decision and explore all of your legal options to seek fair compensation.
At my firm, Tonya Stewart Law, I am committed to providing experienced legal guidance and comprehensive representation to victims of dog bite accidents. As your legal counsel, I can review and investigate the surrounding circumstances that led to the incident and help you explore your legal options to recover compensation. I will fight vigorously to protect your rights and pursue fair financial compensation that can cover medical bills, property damages, lost income, and any additional pain and suffering.
I am also proud to serve clients across Lake Wales, Haines City, Lakeland, Davenport, and Winter Haven, Florida.
Under Florida premises liability law, victims who have been hurt or injured in an accident (including dog bite or animal attack) on another person's or business's property, as a result of a dangerous, unsafe, or hazardous condition of the premises, are within their rights to pursue a premises liability claim against the property owner or the person who exercises control over the property.
If you have been attacked or bitten by a dog while on the property lawfully, you can sue the landowner for negligence or failure to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition to reduce the risk of harm.
According to Florida Statutes Section 767.04, "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."
Florida is a strict liability state with respect to dog bites. This indicates that in a Florida dog bite case, the dog's owner will be held responsible even if they weren't aware of the dog's aggressive behavior.
The dog's owner will not always be held liable. It is possible for the owner to escape liability for a dog bite if:
He or she (dog owner) is under the age of 6
The victim was trespassing
At the time of any such injury, the owner had displayed the words "Bad Dog" as a warning sign on the premises that is easily readable.
Here are a few things to consider when trying to recover compensation in your dog bite case
Seeking damages for your dog bite injuries requires the plaintiff to prove liability. The dog's owner may be liable for your injuries if you can prove that:
You were bitten or attacked by the dog
The dog bite or attack occurred while in a public place or legally on private property
In certain circumstances, the homeowner's insurance will pay out a portion of the claim, depending on how much compensation you are seeking. However, some homeowners may have policies with no dog bite coverage or low limits. If the insurance policy reaches its limit or if there is no insurance to cover a dog bite incident, you can hold the dog's owner personally liable.
According to Florida Statute section 316.027, "serious bodily injury" means an injury to a person that consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ.
A dog that has aggressively attacked, bitten, or caused severe injury to a person may be considered a dangerous dog. If a dog is classified as a dangerous dog as a result of an incident that causes severe injury to a person, the dog may be euthanized in an expeditious and humane manner.
The following damages may be recovered in a successful injury claim:
Medical costs, including future medical expenses
Lost income and other benefits during your recovery
Property damage related to the incident
Pain and suffering
Additional punitive damages
Dog owners in Florida have the responsibility to maintain proper control of their dogs. Here are some of Florida’s most notable leash laws:
It is unlawful for a domestic animal to stray, go, run, or roam at-large in or upon any public street, sidewalk, or school grounds without a leash.
Any leash, chain, or cord used to control the dog must not exceed six feet and must be kept in the owner's physical control.
Animals must wear a specifically manufactured and properly fitted collar or harness for purposes of attended, temporary tethering for recreational purposes.
All animals must be kept under restraint, and "the owner shall exercise proper care and control of his animals to prevent them from becoming a public nuisance."
No owner or person having temporary custody of any animal shall permit the animal or fail to restrain the animal from being at large.
If an animal has been declared dangerous," the animal's owner or keeper must restrain, secure, or confine it.
Being attacked by a dog can be a devastating experience. Fortunately, dog bite victims in Florida may be eligible for financial compensation that can help cover the cost of their injuries, property damages, physical therapy, lost income, and any additional pain and suffering. As a knowledgeable personal injury attorney, I can:
Fight compassionately for your rights and advocate for your needs
Gather all required evidence needed to build a strong case, including medical records, doctor’s appointments, police reports, and witness testimony
Seek to establish fault and prove liability
Determine the full extent of your dog bite injuries and estimate case-value
Negotiate a settlement with any insurance providers involved
If necessary, file a personal injury lawsuit
As your legal counsel, I will work diligently to hold the dog's owner accountable and attempt to help you recover the compensation you deserve for the injuries and mental trauma you have suffered.
If you or someone you know has been attacked or bitten by a dog, you have the right to pursue fair compensation. Contact my firm — Tonya Stewart Law PA — today to schedule a free case assessment. I will offer you comprehensive legal guidance, reliable support, and strong representation during this difficult time. I'm proud to serve clients across Lake Wales, Haines City, Lakeland, Davenport, and Winter Haven, Florida, so reach out to my office today to learn more about how I can help you with your case.