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Anyone who has been bitten by a vicious dog knows how traumatic the experience can be. Dog bites can cause serious injuries, particularly in young children, as well as permanent scarring and disfigurement. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports that millions of people, mostly children, are bitten by dogs in the U.S. every year.
In the state of Florida, with certain exceptions, dog owners are liable for damage caused to victims bitten by their dogs. If you or your child has been seriously injured by a vicious dog, your best course of action is to speak with an experienced dog bite attorney as soon as possible.
At Morgan & Morgan, our personal injury lawyers have a history of success recovering compensation for the injured people we represent. We have years of experience representing Florida people in dog bite cases. You can have confidence that we will work diligently to recover full and fair compensation for your losses. Complete our free case review form for more information.
Facts about Dog Bites
According to AVMA, most, if not all, dog bites are preventable. The association provides the following alarming facts and statistics about dog bites in the U.S.:
- 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs every year.
- 20% of all dog bite victims need medical attention.
- 31 people died from dog bites in a recent year.
- 27,000 victims each year go through reconstructive surgery as a result of dog bites.
- 359,223 children ages 1 to 14 were bitten by dogs in a recent two-year period.
- 66% of dog-bite injuries to children 4 years of age and younger were injuries to the face and neck.
Liability for Dog Bite Injuries in Florida
Under Florida statute 767.04, the owner of a dog that bites a person is liable for the victim’s injuries if the victim was in a public place or lawfully in a private place – including the dog owner’s property – at the time of the attack. This law applies even if the dog had never been vicious in the past, or the owner was not aware that the dog was vicious.
In the context of the statute, a victim is lawfully on the dog owner’s private property if the person is there:
- In the performance of duties imposed on him or her by federal laws or postal regulations or by the laws of the state; or
- By invitation, express or implied, of the property owner.
However, if the dog owner had a sign posted, easily readable and containing the words, “Bad Dog,” the owner may not liable for dog bites that occur on his or her property. Exceptions are when the victim is under the age of 6, or the dog owner’s negligent act or omission caused the damages.
If any negligence on the victim’s part – provoking the dog, for example – was a proximate cause of the biting incident, the dog owner’s liability is reduced by the percentage that the victim’s negligence contributed to the incident.
Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries
When a dog bites a person on the dog owner’s property, homeowner’s insurance may cover the damages, or animal insurance, if the owner has this type of insurance coverage. If the dog bites the victim in the dog owner’s vehicle, auto insurance may cover the damages.
Our St. Augustine attorneys will ask to see the declarations page of the dog owner’s animal, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, and find out about any supplemental insurance, if more coverage is needed to cover your losses. Even if the dog owner has no insurance coverage, you can still bring a claim against the owner in a court of law to collect compensation for your injuries.
Damages you may be entitled to claim include:
- Medical expenses, current and future
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
At Morgan & Morgan, we understand the devastating effects of serious dog bite injuries on the victim – physical, emotional, and financial. We know how important it is to recover compensation for your losses, and we are not afraid to go to trial to fight for the recovery you deserve. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. When you work with our firm, you pay us no fees until we obtain compensation for you.