Dogs may be man’s best friend, but sometimes those friends bite. An attack from a canine can cause devastating injuries, leaving some victims with emotional and physical scars that could last a lifetime. Many require surgeries to correct the damage done by a dog’s bite, and even those whose physical injuries heal can be left battling psychological trauma that affects their day-to-day lives. Dog bite damage can completely change the lives of their victims.
If you’ve suffered a serious dog bite, contact the Ocala Personal Injury lawyers at Meldon Law. During a free consultation, one of their compassionate attorneys can help you receive the compensation you deserve.
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The short answer to this question is yes. Victims of dog bites in Florida can seek compensation for their damages. However, it’s not as simple as that. For dog bite victims to file a personal injury lawsuit, certain factors must have been in play. In short, the dog owner is liable for damages if:
- The dog bite victim was invited to the homeowner’s property
- The dog bite occurred on public property
- The victim did not provoke the dog into biting
If the dog bite incident fits these circumstances, you can file a lawsuit. A Florida dog bite attorney can assist you with gathering evidence to prove that the dog owner was at fault. Photos of your injuries and all of your medical documents relating to the treatment of your injuries will help to ensure you receive the maximum compensation for your damages.
Fortunately, Florida is a strict liability state. This means that even if the dog doesn’t have a prior history of being overly aggressive and has never before bitten anyone, the dog’s owner can still be held responsible if a dog bite occurs. You won’t have to prove that the dog’s owner was negligent in any way, which is usually the norm for personal injury lawsuits.
There are some exceptions to Florida’s dog bite law, and the dog’s owner can use them to present an argument that they’re not liable for any injuries. Some exceptions to the rule include:
- Trespassing – For a dog owner to be fully liable for their dog biting an individual, the victim must have been invited onto their property. Trespassers, or even those who mistakenly entered private property, cannot file a lawsuit against the dog owner since they weren’t legally on the property.
- Defending its owner – If the dog bites someone attacking its owner or perceives its owner as being harmed, its owner could claim the attack was the dog’s natural reaction to protecting its owner.
- Provocation – Similar to a dog protecting its owner, if the dog bite victim harassed or provoked the dog into biting, its owner can’t be liable or responsible for the victim’s injuries.
- Florida’s bad dog rule – Another exception is if the dog has previously been deemed dangerous, its owner must post an easily visible sign stating “Bad Dog” or “Beware of Dog.” If a guest knows that a potentially dangerous pet is present and still chooses to enter the property, the dog’s owner may not be liable.
Severe dog bites can inflict severe injuries. Some treatments could include reconstructive surgery, physical therapy, and sometimes mental health counseling. The dog owner is responsible for compensating the victim for all of their losses, both economic and non-economic in nature. Economic damages can include:
- All medical bills resulting from the dog bite incident; past, current, and future
- Ambulatory services
- Current and expected future loss of wages
- Travel costs to and from medical examinations, tests, and treatments
- Current or future plastic surgeries to limit scarring
- The costs of any OTC medications or medical devices
In addition to any quantifiable economic losses, victims of dog bite injuries can also include non-economic damages to their lawsuit. Examples of non-economic damages are:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Reductions to your ability to earn a living
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, you can seek to receive the maximum compensation for all of your damages, and not only for your medical bills. Every Florida victim of a dog bite injury has this right to compensation. However, failure to retain a personal injury lawyer could result in non-payment for losses you’re entitled to.
Being bitten by a dog can be both painful and traumatic. Victims who were attacked by an owner’s dog either on public property or if they’ve been invited to enter private property are entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation for their damages. Exceptions are if the animal was provoked or is protecting its owner. Because of Florida’s strict liability laws, dog bite victims are not burdened to prove negligence.
Victims of a dog bite attack should never seek compensation without the guidance of an experienced personal injury lawyer. The difference between a successful one and those who simply pay medical bills can be financially substantial.