Unlike many other states, Florida has a specific statute on dog bites. Owners are strictly liable for attacks by their dogs, even if the dog has never attacked anyone before. Nevertheless, you may still need a dog bite lawyer in Palm Bay to pursue a claim.
If you live in Palm Bay, Florida, or anywhere in Brevard County, Andrew Pickett Law is ready to help you after your dog bite. We can investigate which insurance policies apply to your injury and work to get compensation on your behalf.
What Is the Owner Liable For?
Every cost related to your injuries. This is what strict liability means. Once we identify the owner of the dog and prove the dog caused your injuries, the law is clear. The tricky part is figuring out how expensive your injuries are and which insurance policies cover your attack.
Most homeowner’s and renter’s policies cover dog bites. The owner may also have an umbrella policy that covers excess damages. However, if they do not have insurance then it may be difficult to get any compensation.
We will investigate the owner’s assets to determine if they can pay for your compensation directly, but this comes with a risk if you win. The owner may be able to discharge the debt in a bankruptcy proceeding. Nevertheless, we will do all we can to get you the compensation you deserve.
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When Is an Owner Not Liable?
There are a few circumstances that make the owner of a dog not liable for an attack, but these are rare. The most common exception is guard dogs. Owners must display a “bad dog” or a “beware of dog” sign on your property in clear view, but if they do then they can bite a trespasser or other uninvited guest. This defense does not apply if the victim was under the age of six.
The other exceptions where the dog owner isn’t liable are:
- Dogs owned by law enforcement agencies or in their service
- Service animals
- Hunting dogs, presumably during the act of hunting
- Dogs engaged in legal dog training or in exhibition
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What If I Contributed to the Attack?
If you did something that put you at risk of a dog attack, that could be a problem. Depending on the circumstances, you could have your compensation reduced or eliminated. A dog bite injury attorney in Palm Bay can decide if your case is valid or not.
Going back to guard dogs, if you were a trespasser or engaged in some kind of criminal activity and got bit by a dog, that would be a defense against the attack. This could apply even if the owner didn’t display a warning sign.
Another defense is if you were clearly negligent of a dog’s warning behavior or if you deliberately provoked the dog to attack you. The owner would have to prove these things, but if they did then your compensation would be jeopardized.
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Could the Owner Face Criminal Penalties?
Yes, according to Florida statutes. They could face misdemeanors or even a felony. This depends on whether they knew their dog was dangerous, if the dog had bitten someone in the past, and whether the attack caused severe injury or death.
Charging someone with these penalties is up to the state. After you’ve been attacked, contact the police and animal control to make a report of what happened. They will do an investigation and, if they can find enough evidence, will charge the owner with criminal penalties.
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Will the Dog Be Put Down?
This is a possibility, but it’s out of your hands. If a dog causes severe injuries or kills someone, the state may confiscate the dog and put it down. They may also do this if a dog known to be dangerous bites again.
Local laws may also have rules regarding how to handle animals that have attacked someone.. All of these are beyond your control. Remember, it is the owner who is responsible for training their animal properly. The blame falls on them.
What If I Can’t Afford Treatment?
If you work with a dog bite injury attorney, you may be able to get treatment without paying for it immediately. Your Palm Bay dog bite injury lawyer can write a letter of protection that promises the doctor they’ll get paid for treatment out of your settlement funds.
Speaking of fees, our dog bite lawyers work on a contingency basis. You do not have to pay us anything until your case is finished. Once it does, we will take a percentage of the total settlement, pay off any outstanding medical bills covered by the letter, then give you the remainder.
Get a Palm Bay Dog Bite Injury Attorney Today
Andrew Pickett Law is the attorney for you if you’ve been bitten by a dog in Palm Bay or elsewhere in Brevard County. Dog owners sometimes like to hide evidence of attacks, but we will pursue the matter aggressively so you can get the compensation you need.
To get started, request a case evaluation by calling our office or filling out our contact form. Remember, you do not have to pay us anything until your case is complete in your favor.