The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 4.5 million people suffer dog bites annually in the United States, and over 800,000 have to receive medical attention for their dog bite injuries. At least half of the victims are children.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries from a dog bite, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills and other losses. Contact a Gainesville dog bite lawyer from Steven A. Bagen & Associates, P.A. to discuss your options for financial recovery.

How Serious are Gainesville Dog Bite Cases?

The Insurance Information Institute (III) reported that dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for over one-third of homeowners’ liability claim dollars last year, costing $881 million. There were 17,989 claims with an average cost of $64,555 per claim. (The value of your dog bite claim will depend on the nature and severity of your injuries and losses.)

If you need to file an insurance claim for a dog bite injury, you want Steven A. Bagen & Associates, P.A. on your side. Our Gainesville personal injury lawyer obtained $111,000 for a dog bite victim and many other successful results for other injury victims. Reach out today to learn more.

Florida Dog Bite Laws

Under Florida Statutes, the owner of any dog that bites any individual in a public place or lawfully on or in a private place must pay for damages the bitten person suffered. This is regardless of any former viciousness of the dog or the dog owner’s knowledge of such viciousness. This law makes Florida a strict liability state regarding dog bites, meaning victims will not be required to prove any negligence on the part of a dog owner.

Any negligence on the part of a victim that is a proximate cause of a biting incident can reduce the liability of the dog’s owner. A person is lawfully on a dog owner’s private property when they are there in the performance of any duty imposed upon them by the laws of Florida or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States. This is also true when the dog owner implicitly or explicitly invites the person to the property.

A dog owner is not liable if, at the time of the injury, the owner displayed in a prominent place on their premises an easily readable sign that included the words “Bad Dog.” Exceptions to this exclusion include when a dog bite victim is younger than six years old or the bite happened due to a negligent act or omission of the dog owner.

Florida Statutes define a dangerous dog as any dog that the records of an appropriate authority indicate has aggressively bitten, attacked, endangered, or inflicted severe injury on a human being on public or private property.

A dangerous dog has more than once severely injured or killed a domestic animal while it was off the dog owner’s property or had – unprovoked – chased or approached an individual on the streets, sidewalks, or any public grounds in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack. One or more persons must attest to these actions in a sworn statement, and appropriate authorities must dutifully investigate the history.

In some instances, an aggressive dog can be declared dangerous under state law. In such situations, dog owners must take specific precautions and follow strict rules regarding their dogs; otherwise, they can face criminal charges for injuries the dangerous dog causes.

Dangerous dogs must be registered with local authorities and kept in a secure location appropriately marked with dangerous dog warning signs. When the dog leaves the owner’s property, the owner must restrain the dog with a leash or harness and a muzzle.

Injuries and Diseases From Dog Bites

In most dog bite cases, injuries involve the actual flesh wounds people suffer when a dog bites them.

Such injuries can include:

  • Lacerations that require stitches
  • Brain injuries if someone falls and hits their head
  • Torn soft tissue from the dog’s teeth
  • Puncture wounds
  • Fractures due to the strength of a dog’s jaws

Diseases transmitted to victims through dog bites may include:

  • Rabies – Rabies is a viral disease that can cause brain inflammation, fever, and tingling at the exposure site. Additional symptoms may include vomiting, nausea, violent movements, confusion, inability to move certain body parts, and loss of consciousness. Without proper treatment, rabies can cause death. The CDC says rabies causes approximately 59,000 deaths worldwide every year.
  • Capnocytophaga – Capnocytophaga germs can spread to humans through bites from dogs and can cause illness, including sepsis, the body’s extreme response to an infection that can be a life-threatening medical emergency.
  • Pasteurella – Pasteurella multocida is a frequent cause of infection following dog bites and can be cellulitis rapidly developing at the site of an injury. An infection can cause a chronic local infection of deep tissues, osteomyelitis, and bone or bone marrow inflammation.
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) – MRSA is a type of infection caused by staph bacteria that can resist many antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections. While the bacteria sometimes remain confined to the skin, they can burrow deep into the body and cause life-threatening infections.
  • Tetanus – Tetanus is an infection caused by a bacteria called Clostridium tetani, and when the bacteria invades the body, it can produce a poison causing painful muscle contractions. People also call tetanus “lockjaw” because it can cause a person’s neck and jaw muscles to lock and make it difficult to open their mouth or swallow. Severe complications of tetanus may be life-threatening, and there is no cure for tetanus.
  • Streptococcus – Bacteria referred to as group A Streptococcus or group A strep may cause several different infections, ranging from minor illnesses to severe and even deadly diseases. Victims may suffer from strep throat, cellulitis, scarlet fever, streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, impetigo, rheumatic fever, necrotizing fasciitis, and post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis.
  • Staphylococcus – Staph infections result from staphylococcus bacteria, which are germs commonly found on the skin or in the nose of several healthy people. Staph infections can turn deadly when bacteria invade deeper into your body and enter your bloodstream, joints, bones, lungs, or heart. Such infections can potentially be life-threatening.

Dog Bite Claims Process

You should immediately contact the local animal control agency whenever a dog in Florida bites you. Their investigation can help you with your case and prevent the same dog from biting other people. Always seek medical attention for your dog bite, even when you do not think the injuries are severe.

Remember your potential infection risk with a dog bite; a doctor will ensure your bite gets adequately treated, reducing your chances of more severe symptoms later. Furthermore, it will be critical to have a medical record of your care created to help obtain compensation.

Try to document the scene of the dog bite when possible, usually by taking pictures of the setting of your dog bite, the dog itself, and your injuries before they heal. Also, try to write down everything you remember about the incident because you might forget important details later.

After you take all these steps, seek the help of a Gainesville personal injury attorney. You will want a lawyer’s help navigating the complicated legal process.

Don’t Let the Dog Owner or Their Insurance Company Blame You for Your Injuries

Dog owners and insurance companies often try to shift blame for a dog attack to the victim. They might claim you provoked the dog, were trespassing, or acted unlawfully, and your conduct led to the bite. Too often, people concede to such allegations because they do not know how to fight back and prove the dog owner’s liability to insurance companies.

You can bet that both dog owners and their insurance companies will try to blame you for your dog bite, so it is another important reason for you to retain legal counsel. Our attorneys stand up for the rights of dog bite victims, and we know the tactics insurance companies use. You want us to handle your case as soon as possible.

Timeframe for Filing a Dog Bite Case in Civil Court

Most personal injury cases are settled before going to court, But if the insurance company refuses to offer you fair compensation for your injuries, you may need to file your case in civil court. Most personal injury cases, including dog bite cases, involve a statute of limitations (or time limit) for filing. In Florida, the statute of limitations for dog bite claims is two years from the date the victim suffered injuries.

If you fail to file your claim in Florida’s civil court within this deadline, you will likely be unable to seek compensation through the court system. Some exceptions do apply. To ensure you don’t miss any important deadlines, consult a Gainesville dog bite lawyer as soon as possible.

Damages Available to Dog Bite Accident Victims

Dog bites can cause serious injuries and may result in considerable damages. Victims may be entitled to both economic or actual damages and non-economic or general damages.

Economic damages are the awards that refer to losses that can be calculated and proven, including:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Treatment costs
  • Corrective surgeries

Non-economic damages will be far more subjective and not as easy to quantify, often leaving the amounts up to the discretion of a jury.

Such damages can include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement

Help for Dog Attack Victims in Gainesville

The Center for Disease Control (“CDC”), reported that there are approximately 5 million dog bites each year. However, only about 800,000 people seek medical treatment, usually involving cosmetic surgery. Young children top the list of those most bitten, with bites and lacerations around their head and neck. Senior citizens followed by postal carriers, are the next category to be bitten by dogs more frequently.

The third week in May is recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the CDC and the U.S. Postal Service, as “National Dog Bite Prevention Week.” Due to the high statistic of dog bites, and their possible infectious injury results, the CDC works with local state health departments. They help to establish prevention programs and to track U.S. dog bite trends.

The American Veterinary Medical Association, reports that there are more than 72 million dogs living in the U.S., in over 43 million homes. Homeowner and renters insurance typically carries liability provisions to cover dog bites with limits between $100,000 to $300,000. The Insurance Information Institute states that the average cost per claim has risen from about $19,000 in 2003 to more than $29,000 in 2011, an average claim increase of about 53.4 percent.

The liability coverage for dog owners whose dogs bite people can include medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Dog bite laws vary from state to state, which involves the dog bite statute. This statute states that a dog owner is automatically liable. The one-bite rule exempts dog owners from their dog’s first bite. A negligence law states that an owner is liable if their dog bites someone out of negligence. As a result, insurance companies are considering to limit dog bite insurance coverage or to exclude this coverage altogether.

Contact Our Gainesville Dog Bite Lawyers for Your Free Consultation

Did you or a loved one suffer a dog bite in Florida and suffer severe injuries? Contact an experienced dog bite lawyer at Steven A. Bagen & Associates, P.A. for legal assistance. We can assess your case and help you navigate the legal process.

Our firm has been handling personal injury cases since 1983 and can help you with every aspect of your recovery, including obtaining and paying for necessary medical care. Call (800) 800-2575 or contact us online to set up a free consultation. Let us evaluate your case and explain the details so you can know exactly what your options are and how we can help.

For a free case review, contact a Gainesville dog bite attorney at Steven A. Bagen & Associates today!

Gainesville Office

6241 NW 23rd Street, Suite 300
Gainesville, FL 32653

Phone: (352) 570-5765

Downtown Gainesville Office

111 SE 1st Ave, Suite 150
Gainesville, FL 32601

Phone: (352) 268-1883