Dog bite injuries can be severe and life-threatening, especially if the bite becomes infected or the victim is a child. If you or your loved one suffered a bite injury, you might have expensive medical bills and permanent scarring or other complications. Our St. Petersburg dog bite lawyers at the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can help you hold the dog’s owner or another liable party financially responsible for your damages.
Florida Dog Owners Are Strictly Liable For Bites
Florida Statutes § 767.04 holds dog owners strictly liable if their animal bites another person. The statute makes the owner responsible for the injury, even if their dog had never shown a propensity for biting or they had no knowledge of its viciousness. However, the law does include a few exceptions:
- Trespassers: Dog owners are not liable for injuries to trespassers. Strict liability only applies to those legally on a property at the owner’s expressed or implied invitation or anyone on the property to perform a duty, such as a postal worker.
- Contributory negligence: If a dog bite victim’s negligence contributed to their injury, their negligence proportionately reduces the dog owner’s financial responsibility. For example, if a court finds you provoked the dog, it might assign you 40 percent liability. Thus, if you win $100,000 for your injury, you only will receive $60,000.
- A “Bad Dog” sign: A dog owner is not liable if they had a “Bad Dog” sign prominently displayed on their property. This rule does not apply if the victim is under age 6 or the owner’s negligence contributed to the injury.
St. Petersburg Leash Laws
Both the City of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County have leash laws. According to Pinellas County Code Sec. 14-63, “no dog or cat shall run at large within the county.” St. Pete PAWS states that dogs in public spaces must be on a leash at least six feet long, even in public parks. The rule does not apply to fenced, designated dog parks, such as Crescent Lake, Kenwood, and North Shore dog parks.
Strict liability only applies to dog bites and not other injuries like scratches. However, leash laws may be relevant to your case if you must prove negligence for other dog-related injuries. For example, if an off-leash dog chased you and caused you to fall and break your wrist, you could use the law to prove owner liability.
For a free legal consultation with a dog bite lawyer serving St. Petersburg, 800-747-3733
We Can Seek Compensation For Your Bite-Related Losses
Our attorneys can help you recover damages related to your bite injury. Compensation may include awards for:
- Doctor bills
- Hospital stays
- Stitches or sutures
- Cosmetic procedures
- Follow-up care
- Lost income and loss of earning potential
- Household services
- Wrongful death if your loved one suffered a fatal dog bite
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Our Attorneys Will Handle Your Claim
A dog owner’s homeowners insurance policy usually covers bite injuries, even if the incident did not occur on the insured property. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), Florida had the nation’s second-highest number of dog bite claims in 2018, with 1,268.
The average cost per claim that year was around $53,600. However, the value of your claim depends on factors unique to your incident, such as the extent of your injury, time lost from work, your out-of-pocket healthcare costs, and more.
If the dog owner has insurance, we can seek compensation through a claim. Our St. Petersburg dog bite lawyers will:
- Handle your paperwork and file your claim
- Defend you against allegations that you contributed to the incident
- Prove liability for other dog-related injuries
- Field phone calls and emails from the insurance company
- Negotiate for the maximum compensation available to you
- Represent you during a lawsuit if necessary
You Have Four Years to Act On Your Dog Bite Injuries
The clock starts when the incident occurred or when your loved one died. If time runs out, the court will usually not consider your case. Waiting until the statute of limitations expires can also hurt your chances of a successful insurance settlement.
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Bite Injuries Can Cause Diseases, Infections, and Scarring
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even healthy dogs can carry germs in their mouths that make humans extremely ill. Diseases that can spread from a dog bite include:
- MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus)
The CDC reports that nearly 800,000 people seek treatment every year for dog bite injuries. For example, bites can also cause permanent scarring, severe bruising, or broken bones.
If you haven’t already contacted Pinellas County Animal Control about your dog bite incident, you should do so immediately. Be sure to provide authorities with as much information as possible, including the dog owner’s name, the color, size, and breed of the dog, and where the incident occurred. By creating a record of your bite incident, you have evidence you can use later in an insurance claim or dog bite lawsuit.
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Call The Law Offices Of Anidjar & Levine for Help With Your Dog Bite Case
At the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine, fighting for victims is what we do. We understand how a severe injury can change your life and jeopardize your financial stability. For more than 15 years, we have dedicated our practice to helping personal injury victims get the awards they need to get back on their feet.
When you work with our team, you get personalized legal service. For instance, we will answer your questions, provide you with regular case updates, and even give you your lawyer’s phone number. Finally, we will not collect a fee unless we win your case. So, call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
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