Dog bites can range from a playful nip that does not bruise or break the skin to a mauling with severe, even fatal injuries. Victims might experience pain, nerve damage, other tissue damage, and disfigurement. Dog bites tend to get infected, which can lead to illness or death.
If you suffered injuries in a dog attack in Florida, you may be eligible for compensation to pay for your medical bills, missed wages from work, and pain and suffering. A dog bite lawyer in Miami, FL, can determine if you qualify for these and other damages.
At the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine, our legal team helps dog attack victims fight for the compensation they deserve. If someone else’s dog bit you, we may be able to help you, too. Call us at 1-800-747-3733 for a free, no-obligation consultation on your case.
Can I Get Compensation for a Dog Bite?
Many people think your only recourse after a dog bite is to call the local authorities. Animal control might decide to quarantine the animal or take another action, and the authorities might impose a fine on the pet’s owner.
Those administrative actions, however, do not prevent you from seeking compensation from the animal’s owner. Under Florida’s dog bite law, you can hold the dog’s owner financially responsible when a pet bites people. Our attorneys can help you build a strong case for compensation.
Who Is Liable for a Dog Bite Injury?
If you are in a public place or lawfully on private property—which can include the house where the dog lives—the owner of the dog is liable if the animal attacks. Unlike some other states, there is no requirement in Florida that the dog had a history of viciousness or that the owner knew the dog was vicious.
Postal workers, state and federal government employees, and invited guests are considered lawful visitors. Trespassers, however, cannot recover damages from the dog owner.
The Florida dog bite statute provides one way for dog owners to avoid liability for a bite, however. If a dog owner posts a “Bad Dog” sign prominently on the property, they may not be responsible for any attacks that occur. There are exceptions to this rule, however. If the dog bites a child who is six years old or younger or if the owner committed a negligent act, they could be liable for damages.
For example, if the owner had guests over for a barbeque but failed to secure their dog in its enclosure, they could be responsible for any attacks that occurred once the dog escaped. The “Bad Dog” sign would not protect the owner from liability in this case.
What Happens If a Dog Bite Victim Was Partially at Fault?
If you were partially at fault in causing the biting incident, Florida law will reduce the amount of your compensation in proportion to the percentage of your negligence. This concept is comparative negligence. Comparative negligence comes into play in many personal injury cases, including in relation to a car accident claim.
Some dog owners will claim that a dog bite victim taunted or teased their pet and provoked it to attack. Our attorneys will investigate your case to determine if you played a role in causing the incident. We will fight for the full compensation available to you under the law.
What Do I Have to Prove to Win My Claim?
We will have to prove that the dog that bit you belonged to the defendant, that you were in a public place or lawfully on private property, and that the owner cannot use the “Bad Dog” sign exception as a shield from liability.
We will also collect evidence that shows your damages are a result of the dog bite. This could include medical reports detailing the cause of your injuries, surveillance video of the attack, photographs of your bite wounds, and a bite report if you contacted authorities after the attack.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover?
Depending on the extent of your injuries, your damages could include:
- Medical expenses for the initial injury;
- Plastic surgery to minimize the scars;
- Additional repairs to damaged tissue and areas of the body;
- Ongoing medical treatment and care;
- Pain and suffering;
- Lost wages;
- Decreased earning potential; and
You might also qualify for compensation for psychological trauma, such as:
- Panic attacks;
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
- Loss of enjoyment of pets;
- Ongoing terror at the sight of dogs;
- Fear of going to places where dogs might be present; and
- Other psychological harm.
What Evidence Will Help My Claim?
We will gather your medical bills showing your expenses, including receipts for:
- An ambulance ride;
- Emergency room care;
- Treatment from your primary care physician;
- Specialist care;
- Plastic surgeries;
- Medical equipment and supplies;
- Rehabilitation; and
- Any other reasonable medical costs associated with the dog bite.
We will use your treatment provider’s records to show the psychological harm you have endured. We can turn to expert witnesses to help us prove disability, disfigurement, and lost earning potential. We will use your employment records to prove your lost wages.
Once we collect this evidence, we will file a claim with the dog owner’s liability insurance provider. We will offer documentation of your damages and request fair compensation for your losses. We will handle the settlement negotiation process with the insurance company for you, so you do not risk losing out on your right to full compensation.
How Can I Get Help for a Dog Bite Claim?
Insurance companies often try to resolve dog bite claims quickly by offering low settlements to victims. It is essential that you do not sign anything or accept an offer without speaking to a lawyer first. If you agree to a low offer, and you encounter additional costs later on, you will not be able to request more compensation.