According to the American Veterinary Association, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year. Approximately one in five of these incidents requires extensive medical attention. Dogs may be affectionately nicknamed “man’s best friend,” but it’s important to remember that dogs are animals, making them liable to behave as such. But even this fact doesn’t mean the owner of the dog in question should be let off the hook.
If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite that you believe should have been prevented by the owner of the dog, a dog bite lawyer can help you seek compensation for your injuries suffered.
Common Dog Bite Scenarios
Being bitten by a dog can be a traumatic experience no matter what age you are, what the circumstances are, or whose dog is the culprit. Most often, victims are bitten by a dog they know, like a familiar neighborhood dog or a family member or friend’s dog. Children under the age of twelve are the most common victims of such attacks, but other common victims include postal workers and delivery people.
While it’s impossible to predict exactly how any dog will behave in any given scenario, there is a degree of expected behavior that domesticated dogs are expected to exhibit if they have been properly trained, adequately cared for, and sufficiently restrained. If any of these responsibilities are breached by the owner of the dog, a bite or other attack scenario could ensue. For example, if the dog has not been properly trained, it may attack visitors on its property, even unprovoked. Or if the dog is lacking medical care or attention it needs, it may lash out in pain or fear.
No matter the circumstance, it is the dog’s owner that is held to a legal duty of care as a dog owner. They must keep their dogs restrained and under control when there are visitors on their private property. They must keep their dogs from running free on public property. They should provide an adequate level of behavioral training. And if they are aware of their dog’s aggressive behavior, they are expected to warn people of it by way of signs, verbal cues, or proper restraint, such as a leash or muzzle.
But even if the dog in question has never shown any signs of aggression toward people, and the owner could not have predicted their dog would bite another person, they may still be held legally accountable for their dog’s actions.
What to Do When You Are Bitten by a Dog
If you suffer a dog bite, the very first thing to do is seek medical attention. Common dog bite injuries can include:
- Open wounds
- Nerve damage
- Facial scarring
- Severe infection or rabies
- Damage to extremities like fingers, toes, and limbs
- Broken bones or sprains
- Traumatic brain or neck injuries
- Psychological trauma
Even if you see no open wounds and believe the damage suffered isn’t severe, you should always seek the opinion of a medical expert. They may make you aware of damage you didn’t notice during the adrenaline-inducing experience. For example, if you are attacked by a dog and fall and hit your head, you may not be aware of internal brain damage. Or, even though the bite may barely puncture your skin, it’s still enough for rabies to be transferred to you if the dog is infected with it.
If left untreated, your injuries may not only become more severe, but you could forfeit your ability to legally hold the responsible party liable for causing your injuries and compensating you. Always prioritize your health.
After your injuries have been cared for, you should gather evidence and information about the attack. Obtain identifying information about the dog and its owner, such as names, addresses, and contact information. Photograph and record your injuries, as you can use these visual records to demonstrate the severity of your claims and prove them in court. For this same reason, it’s also important to keep a record of all medical procedures and expenses associated with treating your injuries.
Keep in mind, dog attack injuries may not only include a bite from the dog. They may also include scratching, clawing, or injuries suffered if the attack caused you to fall. Compensation for damages can even extend to psychological and emotional trauma.
Next, you will need to file a dog bite report with your municipal government. This will help document your case and provide a paper trail as needed for authorities. Also research whether the dog has a history of aggressive behavior or previous biting incidents. This may help serve as possible indication of the dog owner’s negligence.
And finally, contact a personal injury attorney who is experienced with dog bite cases. They can help you move forward with seeking compensation from the responsible party.
Proving Liability in a Dog Bite Case
There are four necessary steps to take during every dog bite case in order to prove negligence on the part of the dog owner and seek damages:
1.You must present proof that the defendant owned the dog in question at the time you suffered the bite accident.
2.You must prove the dog bite occurred while you were lawfully on the defendant’s private property, or you were on public property.
3.You must prove that your injuries were a direct result of the dog bite incident.
4.You must prove that you did not partake in intentional behavior to provoke or antagonize the dog into biting you. This includes trespassing on private property.
Dog bite laws in the state of Florida are strict. An owner whose dog bites someone cannot legally argue they had no prior knowledge their dog was aggressive or dangerous. So if you were on public property or invited onto private property, and did not provoke the dog, the owner can and should be held liable for your injuries.
At The Whisler Law Firm, we encourage you to make recovering from your dog bite injuries your first priority. But at the same time, we don’t want you to let the responsible party get away with causing you harm. That’s why we’re ready to help you build your dog bite case by gathering the evidence you need from start to finish. Don’t let your physical, emotional, and financial burdens keep you from seeking the justice you deserve. Call us at 833-529-5677 or request an entirely free consultation so we can review your case and make sure you are rightfully taken care of.