No Free Bites – Dog Bites in Broward County, Florida
Did you know that nearly 38% of American households have at least one dog in the house? Did you know that insurance companies paid an average of $44,760 per claim to settle nearly 18,000 dog bite cases in 2019? While no two dog bite cases are the same, a dog bite’s seriousness cannot be understated, particularly whenever the victim of the bite is a young child, an elderly individual, or the bite is to the head, neck, or throat. Nerve damage, scarring, and disfigurement, and a severe fear of dogs are all common in dog bite cases and in a country where dogs bite nearly 4.5 million people every year, knowing what to do when bit is essential.
A dog bite can be a scary experience with life-altering consequences. Nearly half of all dog bite victims are children, and almost one-in-four child dog bite victims require medical treatment to recover from injuries. Dog bites lead the list of severe childhood medical conditions and occur more often than serious playground injuries, skateboarding accidents, ATV and watercraft injuries, and bicycle accidents. When dogs bite children or vulnerable adults, they can cause death or serious bodily injury.
Florida’s dog bite laws heavily favor victims and require dog owners to accept responsibility for their dog’s actions. Unlike other states, where victims need to prove that the owner knew or should have known that their dog was aggressive before it bit, Florida law proudly establishes that there is ‘no free bite.’ You can seek medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and a host of other damages connected to dog bites even if you cannot prove that the dog had a dangerous past.
Immediately After Being Bit by a Dog…
You need to seek medical attention for all dog bites. Unlike most injuries, dog bites can cause substantial soft tissue damage, become infected, and lead to avoidable scarring, nerve damage, and other complications if left untreated. Seeking medical treatment reduces the risk of complications, but it also produces a medical record that can be essential to any personal injury claim. Whether or not you agree with it, many jurors expect that people will go to the hospital for medical care whenever they claim a severe injury.
If at all possible, you should do your best to take a photograph or video of the dog that attacked you. Make a special note as to whether the dog was leashed at the time of your attack, whether the owner made any comments about this not being the first time the dog bit someone, and whether the owner helped you. Try to get the owner’s name and contact information and ask whether the dog is current on vaccinations. If the owner refuses to speak to you, tries to run from the scene, or do not feel safe following them, call 911 and make a police report.
Speak with witnesses to the attack and ask for their names and contact information. Witnesses may be helpful not only because they saw the attack occur, but also because they may have dealt with the dog or the owner in the past. Before leaving the bite scene, take a moment to survey the area and see if any security cameras may have recorded the attack. Video footage can help your legal team protect your legitimate interests.
Why Wasn’t the Dog on a Leash?
A frustrating commonality that keeps popping up in dog bite cases is that they often could have been prevented using a simple leash. Unless a dog is at an approved off-leash park, like Happy Trails in Plantation, FL, or Windmill Dog Park in Coconut Creek, FL, it must be leashed or confined to its owner’s property. Unleashed dogs in public are “at large” and are at a higher risk of attacking you or your loved ones. An owner found to have violated a dog at large law immediately before a dog attack may face increased liability to account for their negligence.
If you are concerned about a dog at large in your community, you can make an official complaint to animal control by calling #311 or (954) 831-4000.
Ways to Financially Recover After a Dog Bite
Dog owners in Florida are strictly liable for the damages their pets cause. This is as true for pitbull and husky bites as it is for golden retriever bites. This means that dog bite victims in Plantation, FL, can have their medical and other expenses covered without needing to show fault on the dog owner’s part. There are only a few instances where a dog owner will not need to pay for the dog bite’s full damages. Most commonly, those instances are where dogs bite trespassers and where the victim provoked the dog.
Because most dog bites happen on the owner’s property, it is essential to remember that delivery drivers, utility workers, and guests on a dog owner’s property can sue for damages related to the bite. Whether you are delivering pizza, working as an Amazon Flex driver, or were called to the house on a job when you were bit, Florida law likely protects you and entitles you to compensation.
Extreme cases of animal aggression or owner misconduct open up other paths to recovery. Suits to recover for assault and battery where dog owners use their pets as attack dogs may be appropriate. Negligence lawsuits may be suitable when a dog’s owner knew that their animal had a history of biting and aggression and failed to protect you from injury. Dogs that can roam free and chase or bite you or your children can also bring about a negligence per se suit.
Many renter’s and homeowner’s insurance policies will cover dog bites. Having your particular case reviewed by a qualified dog bite attorney can help you determine how best to move forward. Because every dog bite case is different and because the best way to cover your financial losses varies based on your case’s facts, you should