While animals can be loving companions, they can also be aggressive and dangerous. If you or a loved one suffered injuries from a dog bite or other animal attack, you can seek compensation for your losses, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Florida law states pet owners are responsible for their animals’ behavior and resulting harm. A Hialeah dog bite lawyer from the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can help you pursue the compensation you need to move forward after this traumatic event.
Types of Compensation You Can Recover in an Animal Attack Injury Claim
These injuries often require immediate and ongoing medical care, as well as physical or occupational therapy and medical devices or equipment. You may also need psychological counseling and medications. Some victims require in-home care as well.
You may recover compensation for all current and reasonably anticipated healthcare costs related to your injuries. You can also seek compensation for additional related damages, including:
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning potential
- Diminished quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Current and future emotional pain and suffering
For a free legal consultation with a dog bite lawyer serving Hialeah, 800-747-3733
How Florida Dog Bite Laws May Affect Your Case
Whereas some states have a “one bite rule” regarding animal attacks, Florida takes a “strict liability” stance, outlined in Florida Statutes § 767.04. The law states: “The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place…is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”
Strict liability means the dog’s owner is responsible for their animal’s actions and the resulting harm, even if the owner was not aware the animal had any propensity for aggression. Often, dogs exhibit aggressive tendencies that should warn owners of their potential to harm. However, this is not always the case.
Under Florida law, it makes no difference whether the animal’s owner did anything wrong, like letting their animal off-leash in a leash-only area. As long as the victim was in a public place or lawfully in a private place, the owner is liable for the consequences of their pet’s actions.
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Establishing Liability for a Dog Bite
Establishing liability is the cornerstone of a personal injury lawsuit. Liability refers to responsibility or accountability. A victim or plaintiff must prove another party is liable to pursue compensation from them.
An injury lawyer from our firm can help you establish liability by conducting an independent investigation, reviewing police reports, medical records, photos or video evidence, and obtaining eyewitness testimonies. Their objective in doing so is to prove another party caused your injuries and is obligated to compensate you for the losses you incurred as a result.
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Who is Responsible for a Dog Bite Injury in Hialeah?
Most of the time, the pet’s owner is responsible. However, in certain circumstances, another party or parties may be at fault. In these situations, you may need to seek compensation from multiple people to cover the full extent of your losses.
For instance, if a dog bites you at a pet store, the store owner may be responsible. Or, if a dog bites you on a rental property, the landlord may be liable if they were aware their tenant had a dangerous animal.
Florida Follows a Comparative Negligence Rule for Animal Attacks
It is important to note victims can bear some responsibility for their injuries if they contributed to the incident. This is because Florida takes a “pure comparative negligence” stance on liability.
According to Florida Statute § 767.04, a judge may decrease a plaintiff’s compensatory damages in proportion to the degree of negligence the plaintiff exhibited. Negligence refers to an expected degree of care any reasonable person would exercise in a situation.
For example, if an individual taunts an animal, a judge may find they were negligent and thus partially responsible for the harm they suffer. Importantly, this does not mean they are not entitled to damages. A victim can still pursue compensation provided they were 99% or less responsible for their injuries.
Who Pays for Your Losses?
If the dog that bit you was a friend’s or family member’s pet, you may be hesitant to pursue compensation, particularly if you know it would be financially burdensome for them. Don’t let this deter you from seeking the compensation you need and deserve. Individuals do not usually pay out of pocket for dog bite injuries.
Most often, the dog owner’s insurance company compensates the victim. Renters and homeowners insurance policies typically cover injuries, including dog bites, that occur on or off a person’s property. Landlords’ and business owners’ insurance policies usually do the same.
The insurance policy may not cover the full extent of your losses. In this case, you may want to consider pursuing compensation from the individual as well. But, even in such instances, the insurance provider will likely front most of the bill.
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Types of Injuries Associated with Dog Attacks
Dog bite injuries can be grievous and debilitating. Some of the most common ailments associated with animal attacks include:
- Face injuries
- Head and neck injuries
- Eye injuries
- Nerve damage
Victims may also suffer psychological trauma and experience emotional pain and anguish, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five dog bites becomes infected. Viral and bacterial infections associated with animal attacks include:
- Pasteurella bacteria
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
People with compromised immune systems are most likely to contract such illnesses, but anyone could be at risk.
How Long do You Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Florida?
In Florida, victims have four years from the incident date to file a personal injury lawsuit according to Florida Statutes § 95.11(3)(a). If a family member died from their injuries, you have just two years to file a suit according to Florida Statutes § 95.11(4)(d).
It is best to file as soon as possible, as waiting may make it more challenging to obtain necessary evidence, including eyewitness testimonies or security footage. It is also essential to file a claim with your insurance company immediately, even if you are unsure if you will file a lawsuit.
Get in Touch with a Hialeah Dog Bite Attorney Today
It may feel overwhelming to file an insurance claim or lawsuit while you are still in recovery. A dog bite lawyer can support you throughout the process, from filing documents to negotiating with the defendant’s insurance company or legal representative.
For responsive legal care in Miami-Dade County, turn to the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine. Call 1-800-747-3733 today for a free consultation to discuss your case.
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