Building A Dog Bite Claim In Florida
Each year, dogs bite over four million people. Many of these incidents cause little or no physical harm. But most of them cause injury, and in many cases, these injuries are substantial.
Some large breed dogs weigh much more than their human bite victims. The initial knockdown may break bones, perhaps including the skull. In many cases, the tendency to attack is embedded deep within the dog’s genetic code. So, these attacks are quite vicious from a physical standpoint. The intangible injuries, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the pain and suffering associated with the bite, may be even worse.
Dog bite victims are often entitled to significant compensation. An experienced Florida dog bite attorney gives you the best chance to obtain that compensation.
Prominent Dog Bite Liability Theories in Florida
The Sunshine State has a strict liability law. Owners are liable for certain damages whether they knew the animal was vicious or not. However, the law only applies to bite injuries and it usually only applies to record dog owners.
As mentioned, the knockdown often causes serious injuries. Moreover, many dogs scratch their victims, causing severe wounds. It is almost impossible to trace noneconomic damages to the bite as opposed to a scratch or knockdown, so the strict liability law may not apply to these injuries either. Animal custodians, including dog walkers and pet sitters, might escape liability as well.
So, in many cases, an attorney must work harder to find an appropriate theory. Fortunately, there are a number of such doctrines available, including:
- Negligence: Owners arguably display a lack of ordinary care if they do not properly train and control their animals, especially when the animals are around unfamiliar people.
- Scienter: This Latin word means “knowledge.” In Florida, if the owner knows the dog is potentially vicious, liability may still attach. Evidence of knowledge includes pre-attack behavior, like growling or baring of teeth, as well as prior attacks against people or other animals.
- Negligence Per Se: Brandon has one of the strictest leash laws/fence laws in the state. If the owner fails to follow these laws, and that failure substantially causes injury, the owner could be liable for damages as a matter of law. Other municipalities have similar statutes.
Damages in dog bite cases usually include money for both economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additionally, some Florida juries award additional punitive damages in some cases.
Collecting Evidence in Support of Your Florida Dog Bite Claim
Medical bills are the foundation in many dog bite claims. Due to privacy laws, it might take a private individual days or weeks to obtain these records. But an experienced lawyer may be able to obtain them in a matter of hours. So, your attorney gets a running start on your claim.
Eyewitness testimony is very important as well. Since the burden of proof is so low in civil cases, the victim’s testimony is usually sufficient. However, the more evidence that the victim/plaintiff presents, the stronger a claim for compensation becomes.
Count On Tenacious Attorneys
Dog bite victims have several legal options in Florida. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Brandon, contact Reed & Reed. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).