Millions of Americans enjoy having canine companions and the benefits of dog ownership. But owning any pet comes with responsibilities, and those who have animals must ensure the safety of others who come in contact with them—particularly dog owners. Almost any dog can cause harm if it attacks or bites another person, especially when children or the elderly are the victims. Statistics show that nearly one out of every five dog bites results in the need for medical attention, and dog bites resulted in over 28,000 people undergoing reconstructive surgery in 2015.
One of the first questions that victims have after an unprovoked dog attack is who will pay the medical bills. Dog bites can cause extensive damage, and even a seemingly minor bite can cause a life-threatening infection that needs medical care. Treatment for a dog bite, large or small, can quickly lead to expensive bills from the hospital for emergency care, surgery, infection control, and other types of follow-up care.
Florida law is clear about the responsibility that dog owners have when a dog hurts someone, and victims of dog bites have the right to seek compensation from the animal’s owner in a court of law through a personal injury lawsuit.
Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries
When a dog bites someone in Florida, the owner has responsibility for the injuries that the animal inflicts. This applies if the bite happens in a public place such as in a park or on the sidewalk. It also applies if the bite happens on private property, including the dog owner’s property, as long as the victim is on the property lawfully and not as a trespasser.
Some states follow a “one bite” rule that reduces liability for dog owners if the dog has never bitten anyone or displayed vicious behavior in the past. Florida, however, does not protect owners in this way. Dog owners are responsible for the actions of their dogs and can be held liable for even the first incident or attack. If the dog is on a rental property and is known to be vicious, the property owner may also share in the liability if he did not take steps to ensure that the property was safe.
Dog Bite Injuries
When a dog attacks, it can be a terrifying and painful experience for victims and cause life-altering injuries. Some of those injuries include:
- Puncture wounds. Even a quick bite can leave a puncture wound that’s prone to infection.
- Broken bones. Many dog bites are powerful enough to break the bones of humans.
- Nerve injuries. A powerful dog bite can sever muscle, tendon, and nerves, causing a permanent loss of sensation.
- Permanent scars. A dog bite can cause lasting disfigurement that may require skin grafts and plastic surgery to heal properly.
- Emotional trauma. Dog bites are frightening, and the memory of the experience can be a traumatic experience for the victim.
A vicious dog attack can cause injuries to the eyes, nose, or face, and the victim can lose fingers, toes, and even an entire limb either due to the attack or because surgical amputation afterward is necessary.
Infection is also possible after even a small bite. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), capnocyptophaga, or pasturella infections are common after a bite. Rabies is relatively rare thanks to vaccination programs, but it is fatal in almost 100 percent of cases when not treated immediately.
How to Get Legal Help After a Dog Bite
If you, your child, or another family member suffered injuries due to a serious dog bite, call the Law Office of Andrew G. Rosenberg, P.A. We are here to help you and your family start the legal recovery process, so you can receive compensation for the medical bills and other expenses as a result of the attack. Contact us using our online form to send an email, and arrange for a free consultation with an experienced dog bite lawyer in Florida today.