Dog Bite Injury
Jeffrey R. Davis, P.A. has represented victims of dog bites and damage caused by dogs for many years in Miami, North Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and throughout Miami-Dade and Broward County. Every year more than 500 Floridians are severely bitten by dogs. In addition, just alone in 2006, three Floridians suffered wrongful deaths as a result of a dog bite.
In Florida, people have the false impression that the law allows one free bite. This is wrong.
The former viciousness of a dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness is irrelevant. FLA. STAT. § 767.04. No previous bite or proof of aggressive behavior is needed for the dog owner to be held legally and financially responsible for injuries or damage cause by their dog.
If a dog bites or damages a person in the State of Florida, Florida law protects the victim and allows them to recover money damages for their injuries. This is true whether the victim is in a public place or lawfully in a private place. This even includes the property of the dog owner. Florida is a strict liability state.
However, there are exceptions to this strict liability. a dog owner may not be held liable if the owner has displayed “Bad Dog” or “Beware of Dog” signs in a prominent place on their property, that are easy to read. Also, a dog owner can still be liable even with the signs if the dog bite victim is under 6 years old. Another exception to a dog owner’s strict responsibility for damage by their dog is where the owner of the dog is responsible for causing injuries by advising visitors to disregard posted warnings.
In 1989 Miami-Dade County enacted breed specific legislation banning from the county all “pit bull” dogs. An overwhelming number of Miami-Dade County voters in 2012 voted to keep the ban in place. In place other counties and jurisdictions have similar laws and ordinances. Some locales have minimum insurance requirements for breed specific canines.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 4 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year. One in five dog bites results in injuries that require medical attention. Common dog bite injuries include:
- Puncture Wounds
- Cuts & Lacerations
- Risk of Rabies Infection
- Risk of Bacterial Infection
- Emotional Trauma
- Broken Bones
Important Information for Potential Clients
What should you do after a dog bite attack?
- Seek immediate medical attention. This is for your own safety and to document your injuries;.
- Take pictures of your injuries, the dog that attacked you, and the accident scene;
- Get witnesses’ names and numbers. This includes the names of the responding police officers and animal control officers;
- Do not sign any insurance or settlement documents without legal advice. Many insurance adjusters or dog owners will offer you quick settlements that only cover immediate medical expenses and loss of wages, without factoring inconsidering the need for ongoing physical therapymedical care, possible reconstructive/plastic surgery or counseling;.
- Contact an experienced attorney in order to preserve evidence and protect your rights.