Of all the personal injuries that occur in the U.S. each year, dog bites are probably among the last on your mind. Nonetheless, more than four million Americans (mostly children) suffer dog bites annually, and 20% of all bites become infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In terms of dog bites, Florida is a strict liability state. This means that a dog’s owner is responsible if:
- The dog bites you
- You’re in a public place or legally in a private place (including the property of the dog owner)
The statute of limitations gives you up to four years to file a claim against the dog owner for your damages, including:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages due to time off work
- Property damage (torn clothing, broken eyeglasses, damaged cell phone, etc.)
- Pain and suffering
Defenses Against Dog Bite Claims
The owner of the dog can reduce or eliminate liability by proving any of the following:
- Trespassing. If you’re bitten when you’re on the owner’s property without permission or invitation, your trespassing could prevent you from recovering damages.
- “Bad bog” sign. If the owner has posted a clearly visible sign with the words “bad dog” on it, that warning could reduce or eliminate the owner’s liability unless:
- The owner was negligent in some other way.
- The victim was under six years of age.
- Comparative negligence. If you were taunting, abusing, or scaring the dog in any way, you could be found partially responsible for the bite. Such a finding could reduce your compensation for damages according to your percentage of fault.
Preventing Dog Bites
Following some simple guidelines can help you prevent dog bites and avoid dealing with any of the legal issues above:
- Keep a safe distance or some obstacle between yourself and a dog with:
- A tense body
- A stiff tail
- Pinned back ears
- Rolling eyes
- A flicking tongue
- Stand motionless with your hands at your sides and eyes downward.
- If you fall or are knocked down:
- Curl up into a ball
- Cover your face and ears
- Be still
- Do not:
- Make eye contact
- Yell or scream
- Run from the dog
Have You Suffered a Dog Bite in Florida Despite Taking Reasonable Precautions?
Get fair compensation for your damages by consulting an experienced dog bite accident attorney. Contact us online, start a chat, or call our Coral Springs office at 954-755-7803 to schedule a free consultation.