Every year in Florida, thousands of people are injured by dogs. The vast majority of people involved in dog bite accidents need medical treatment. Unfortunately, this often puts a financial strain on the victims and their families.
Over the years, there have been many dog bite cases in Florida. On average, there are two dog bite deaths per year in the Sunshine State. In March of 2019, a two-year-old was killed by two dogs in High Springs. The group at the highest risk for being bitten are children who are younger than 14. With 19.9% of the population being under the age of 18, Florida has many residents who are actual and potential victims.
If you or a loved one were a victim of an aggressive dog, you need a dog bite lawyer in Florida. They can explain your options for compensation and help you understand the steps you will need to take to get what you deserve. 1-800-Injured wants to connect you with an experienced lawyer who will fight for justice.
Can You Sue for a Dog Bite in Florida?
Every state has laws regarding dog bites. According to Florida dog bite law, you are allowed to sue someone if their dog bites you. However, not all cases result in successful lawsuits. Before you begin the process, there are a few things you should know.
The owner of a dog is only liable if their dog bit another person and the victim was in a public place or was welcome on private land. Therefore, someone who is trespassing cannot successfully sue the homeowner for their injuries.
That said, there could be some exceptions. It’s important to hire an attorney who specializes in dog bite cases before you initiate a lawsuit. They will analyze your situation and tell you whether or not you have a personal injury claim.
Some states have laws in place to protect dog owners. They don’t hold an owner liable for their dog’s aggression unless they have a history of biting. But Florida dog bite law is not in favor of the owners. It’s known as a strict liability state. As such, dog owners are liable for any injuries caused by their animals, regardless of a dog’s history.
While this is bad news for dog owners, it’s good news for victims of dog bites. You can sue an owner even if you’re the dog’s first victim. If you contact one of the lawyers specializing in dog bites, they will explain more about filing a lawsuit against the owner.
Meeting the Time Requirements
Time is not on your side. Even if you meet all the requirements for a dog bite case, you need to file before the statute of limitations is up. In Florida, you have four years to file your lawsuit. If you file after four years, the court will dismiss your claim.
Typically, the clock begins on the day of your injury. But there are a few exceptions. An injury could seem minor but have serious implications. The four years could begin on the date on which you discover the injury.
Another exception is for injuries that happen to minors. For all personal injury claims, minors have more time to file. Their statute of limitations does not begin until they turn 18. If a 12-year-old is bit by a dog, they have four years to file from the date they turn 18.
Should I Get a Lawyer for a Dog Bite?
If you were bitten by a dog, you shouldn’t hesitate to hire a dog bite lawyer in Florida. At the time of the bite, you might not realize how much the incident can change your life. But in the weeks, months, and years after the incident, you’ll understand the consequences of your injury.
First, there’s the financial impact. Because most dog bites require an emergency room visit, they tend to cost victims thousands of dollars. The cost could weigh on you for years, or leave you trapped in a cycle of debt.
Your injury could also keep you from working. Once again, this costs you money. Your life could become a daily struggle that never gets easier.
If your injuries are significant enough, you could suffer other long-term consequences. If your dog bite is visible, it may cause permanent disfigurement. At times, the bite causes nerve damage. It could keep you from working in your chosen career or caring for your family.
What Can a Dog Bite Lawyer in Florida Do?
An experienced attorney knows what it takes to hold a dog owner liable for their dog. More importantly, they understand how to get you compensation for your accident.
By filing a personal injury lawsuit, a lawyer will request damages for the bite incident. There are two ways in which you can get money for your injuries. The first way is the possibility of a settlement. Part of the lawsuit process is negotiating. After meeting with the defense attorney, your lawyer may be able to get a settlement.
The other option is to go to trial. If this happens to your case, you’ll leave the decision in the hands of the judge or jury. They will listen to the details of your case and determine whether or not you deserve compensation. Additionally, they will calculate the amount of damages you will receive.
How Much is a Dog Bite Settlement?
The amount of money you receive from your case depends on many factors. For instance, it depends on the severity of your injuries. A short-term and minor injury will not impact your life much and will not result in a large amount of compensation. On the other hand, a permanent injury could get you a high payout.
When calculating your potential damages, you need to think of the total cost of your medical bills. This includes your future and past medical bills. You should also add in the amount of wages or salary you will miss due to your injury.
Finally, you should consider your pain and suffering. An experienced dog bite lawyer can calculate the damages that the court will consider for noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering.
What Happens If My Dog Bites Someone in Florida?
Dog bites aren’t only bad for the victim; they are also devastating for the dog owner. If your dog bites someone, there are a few things that can happen.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
You could be faced with a personal injury lawsuit. Because of Florida’s strict stance on dog bites, you should get a dog bite defense attorney. It’s not uncommon for dog owners to be held financially responsible for the medical bills and missed wages of dog bite victims. Even if you were cautious with your dog, you could still find yourself on the receiving end of a lawsuit.
If the lawsuit is successful, you might need to pay the settlement out-of-pocket. Sadly, this often means financial devastation.
Under certain circumstances, the dog owner faces criminal charges for the injuries or death caused by their dog. Although this is rare, it is possible.
It may occur if the dog was known to be dangerous and the owner was reckless. In this case, the owner faces a charge of a second-degree misdemeanor. This can be punished with 60 days in jail and a criminal record.
The owner faces even more jail time if the dog was considered dangerous and bit someone without provocation. In this scenario, they would receive a first-degree misdemeanor. As such, the penalty is as much as one year in prison. For this reason, it’s crucial to work with a dog bite defense attorney. Failing to do so could mean the worst possible outcome. If convicted with manslaughter, you’re faced with up to 15 years in prison.
In Florida, the Dangerous Dog Act allows animal control to impound or quarantine dogs that cause injury or death to a person. Animal control will give you a written notice. Then, you only have ten days to write an appeal. While your dog is being held, you’ll be responsible for paying for its boarding and care.
If you fail to make the appeal, animal control will euthanize the dog. Your dog may also be euthanized if they deny the appeal. But don’t lose all hope. If you can prove your dog was protecting you from danger, you have a chance at fighting euthanasia. A successful appeal will bring your dog back home where it belongs.
Working with Lawyers Specializing in Dog Bites
Whether you are a victim of a dog bite or your dog bit someone, you should speak to a lawyer. There’s a lot at stake, and you deserve to know your rights.
If you’re ready to take action, contact 1-800-Injured. We can connect you with a local attorney who has the experience to fight for compensation.