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Dog Bites

Dog bites are one of the most underestimated causes of personal injury in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the U.S. yearly. It is estimated that close to 885,000 of those bitten will need to visit an emergency room for medical treatment of injuries. While deaths from dog bites are rare, the injuries can require ongoing medical care; surgery to repair scarring and wound aftercare. Dog bites can also cause a great deal of emotional trauma, particularly for young children, who are commonly reported as victims of dog bites.

Liability for injuries to people in Florida

Under Florida law section 767.04, the Florida dog bite statute orders that the owner of a dog that bites anyone while the person is in a public place, or is lawfully in a private place, “is liable for the damages suffered by the victim, regardless of the knowledge of viciousness of the dog.” Any negligence on the part of the dog bite victim that causes the biting incident will reduce the liability of the dog owner by the percentage of the bitten person’s negligence.

For landlords and property managers, Florida law dictates a landlord has the duty to protect its tenants from a vicious dog that the landlord has knowledge of.

The Florida dog bite statute does have one distinct exception, in that the dog owner has no liability if the dog bite victim is six years of age or older, the incident occurs on the dog owner’s property and there was a warning sign conspicuously posted. The sign must be easily readable and posted in a prominent place.

Preventing dog bite injuries

According to the CDC, dog bites are most likely to happen to children between the ages of five and nine years, and children are more likely than adults to need medical care for their injuries. Fortunately, it is possible for parents to prevent dog bite injuries by teaching children how to behave safely around dogs.

Teach children to protect themselves if a strange dog approaches by following these rules

  • Never approach a strange dog without supervision and the permission of the owner.
  • Before petting an unfamiliar dog, let it sniff you first. Never chase a dog to try to pet it.
  • Never run away from a dog or scream.
  • If approached by a strange dog, stand still. If you are knocked down, curl into a ball and stay still.
  • Do not poke a dog when it is eating, sleeping or involved in another activity.
  • Tell an adult immediately if you are bitten or injured by a dog, and never hesitate to let an adult know if a dog is acting out of character.

A dog bite can leave a victim with significant emotional and physical injuries. The insurance company will try to get you to settle for quick cash, with the ultimate goal being the avoidance of responsibility for medical expenses; lost wages and other damages that may develop. This is a trap that a dog bite victim must avoid.

Determining the total value of a claim for personal injury due to a dog bite is complicated. It requires evaluation of the extent and nature of the injury, the economic losses that can be recovered and any issues of liability related to the dog attack. Since the insurance companies have experience on their side, it is important to have someone you trust in your own corner.

If you or a loved one has suffered from a dog bite or attack, it is important to talk to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact Frank Charles Miranda, P.A. at 813.854.2637 to schedule an appointment to discuss your case with us. Your consultation is free, and we do work on a contingency fee basis. We handle your case, so you can concentrate on recovery.

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