According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 36% of all household in the United States own at least one dog, and in the eyes of most pet owners, their dog is just another member of their family. However, despite the companionship that many dogs offer their owner(s), we are all very aware of the fact that a dog is an animal, and in certain situations, a dog’s natural instinct to attack can overcome their friendly nature, and cause the animal to injure another person or animal. Regardless of the degree of viciousness involved in a dog attack, dog bites – both minor and major – can cause a bite victim serious injuries, and these attacks occur more and more every day.
In Florida specifically, the Florida Department of Health has indicated that over 600 Floridians are hospitalized each year due to injuries from dog bites, and an average of 2 Floridians are killed each year due to dog attacks. In 2017, there were 1,857 emergency department visits in Broward County due to dog bite injuries, and Broward County had the second highest number of emergency department visits due to dog bite injuries in the state that year. Moreover, according to the CDC, nearly one out of every five people bitten by a dog requires medical attention, and it is often children who are most at risk of being attacked by a dog. In other words, being bitten by a dog is a serious and sometimes life-changing event. As such, if you or a loved one has been bitten or attacked by a dog, you should always consult with a dog bite attorney in Ft. Lauderdale who can explain the legal remedies afforded to you by law, and evaluate the strength of your case against the dog’s owner for damages.
Florida Dog Bite Laws
Dog bite laws in Florida are generally centered around the provisions of Florida’s dog bite statutes, Fla.Stat.§767.01-767.16, but there is also an overlap between our state’s dog bite laws and premises liability laws. As such, the location of the attack itself is a critically important piece of information for you to communicate to your dog bite attorney and to establish at the scene of the attack. Under Florida law, a dog owner is liable for damages caused by their dog to another animal or human only if the dog attacks the person or animal while they are:
- Legally in a public place or on public property
- Legally in a private place or on private property
- Legally on the dog owner’s premises
“Legally” is an important term within Florida’s dog owner liability statute, Fla.Stat.§767.04, especially in the context of dog bites that occur on a dog owners premises, because a property owner does not owe a duty of care to an undiscovered trespasser, under Fla.Stat.§768.075. The property owner or pet owner’s only obligation to an undiscovered trespasser is to refrain from engaging in intentional misconduct that injures the trespasser, and the property owner is under no obligation to warn an undiscovered trespasser of any hazards such as a dog that is roaming on their property.
Bad Dog Signs in Florida
Dog owners can further limit their liability by prominently displaying a sign that states “bad dog,” on their premises. When a dog owner does this, Fla.Stat.§767.04 states that a dog owner is not liable for damages caused by their dog to another person unless the victim is under six years of age or the victim’s injuries were proximately caused by the dog owner’s negligent act or omission.
What Should I Do After a Dog Attack?
Due to these very specific provisions of Florida law, you should always contact the police and animal control to record how and where the attack occurred. Moreover, you should take pictures of the attack scene, the dog itself, and your injuries, in addition to making sure that you obtain the name and phone number of any witnesses. All of this information will be used by your dog bite attorney to strengthen your claim, and prove the necessary elements necessary to meet your burden of proof at trial.
Dog Bite Settlement Amounts
Many dog bite victims often inquire about the amount of compensation they could receive for their injuries. The truth is that the settlement amount or the amount of damages awarded to an accident victim by a jury varies in each case. These awards are based on the amount of damage the attack victim actually sustained as a result of the dog bite. As such, you and your dog bite attorney will need to gather evidence to demonstrate the extent of your damages. Some of this information will be provided by you and your family, such as testimony on the impact that the dog attack has had on your life overall. This evidence can be used to demonstrate pain and suffering, mental anguish, etc.
Other evidence to demonstrate the extent of your damages will be obtained from your doctors and your employer. Your doctors will be able to testify about the extent of your injuries, the projected cost of your future medical care, and the potential impact your injuries could have on your life in the future. Your employer, through either documentary evidence such as pay stubs or direct testimony, will be able to provide the evidence needed to establish the value of any lost wages and whether or not you will ever be able to return to your past employment or career. All of this information combined is used by your dog bite attorney to project the value of your case and to negotiate the value of any settlement you might accept. Thus, the value of your case is determined by the severity of your injuries in most cases, and it should only be calculated with the guidance of a dog bite attorney in Fort Lauderdale.
Connect with a Dog Bite Attorney in Fort Lauderdale Today
Dog attacks affect the lives of hundreds of Floridians every year, but dog accident victims that obtain the justice they deserve do so with the assistance of an experienced dog accident attorney. 1800-Injured is a medical and lawyer referral service that connects attack victims with dog bite attorneys in the Fort Lauderdale area. If you or a loved one has been bitten or attacked by a dog, call 1-800-Injured today to be connected with a dog bite attorney near you.