Any dog can bite. While some individuals can be victims of dog bites by strays or loose dogs on public property, there are many others that suffer bites from dogs they know or at a private home or property where they frequent. If you suffer a dog bite in Florida, you are potentially eligible for compensation for your damages from the dog owner.
Why Should You Get a Lawyer After a Dog Bite?
It can be difficult to come to an agreement with a dog owner to cover the expenses of your injuries after a dog bite. The reality is that a dog bite injury can cause significant monetary losses to you and many dog owners may not be willing or able to cover those costs. Fortunately, in many instances, liability insurance coverage can apply to a dog bite incident.
Homeowner’s policies, renter’s insurance, and other liability coverage can cover dog bites in many circumstances. However, getting a payout from an insurer is anything but simple. A lawyer will help you fight for the compensation you deserve against an insurance company if coverage is available in your case or the owner of the dog that bit you.
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What Kind of Damages Can You Seek Compensation for if You Are Bitten By a Dog?
If you suffer a dog bite injury, you can be eligible for monetary compensation to reimburse you for your losses, expenses and to cover any inconveniences and impacts you face as a result of your injury. Potential damages in a dog bite case include both economic and non-economic damages. While not all damages are available in every case, a lawyer can take a close look at the facts of your case and help you determine the damages you are eligible for.
Damages from a dog bite can include:
- Medical costs
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
What Do You Need to Prove in a Dog Bite Case to Be Eligible for Compensation?
Florida statute imposes liability on the owner of a dog that causes harm to another individual through no fault of their own. Under the statutory requirements, you must show that a dog bit you and caused your injuries and that the at-fault party is the owner of the dog. You need not prove that the animal had a prior history of aggression or that the owner was negligent in its care of the animal.
The only caveat to this statute is that it makes mention that if the defendant can show that a victim acted negligently in their behaviors with the dog, the liability on the owner can be lower depending on the percentage of liability imposed on the victim for their actions. Provoking an animal, ignoring the warnings of an owner, or approaching the animal suddenly are examples of possible negligence on the part of a dog bite victim.
How Much Time Do You Have to Sue or File a Claim After a Dog Bite?
Dog bites qualify as a personal injury under Florida laws. A victim that suffers a dog bite must file a legal action in court against the parties responsible no more than four years from the date of the incident. Under the Florida statute of limitations, if a victim allows this time to lapse without filing a lawsuit for damages, they forgo their rights under the law and will be unable to pursue the case in court.
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What Action Should You Take if You Suffer a Dog Bite Injury?
A dog bite can leave you shaken and in pain; knowing what you can do to protect yourself can make the process a little easier and help you prepare yourself for a claim or lawsuit if necessary.
Call the Police
It is understandable that many people do not want to call the police after a dog bite, but in most cases, it is your best possible option. If a dangerous dog is on the loose, the police will need to come to the scene to secure the dog and prevent further injury to the public.
If the dog is now in the possession of the owner or otherwise restrained, it is still a good idea to request the help of police to report the incident, inquire as to the rabies vaccination status of the dog and gather the owner’s information, including any insurance coverage that may apply.
Go to the ER, Urgent Care, or Doctor
Dog bites are dangerous injuries and, even when seemingly minor, can cause complications due to disease or infection. You must always seek medical care after a dog bite. Visit your nearest medical facility for an evaluation of your injuries and to begin treatment as soon as possible if the rabies status of a dog is unknown or the dog potentially is a carrier of the disease.
In the moments after a dog bite, your priority must be to get help and to identify the animal responsible. If you have a mobile phone and are able to do so, try to take a picture of the dog from a safe location and attempt to identify the owner if possible. When you have a moment, take a photograph of the area, your injuries, and anything else you believe may be relevant to your case.
Contact Andrew Pickett Law Immediately After a Dog Bite
After you have received medical treatment for your injuries, you must turn your focus to the compensation for your financial expenses and losses. Contact a dog bite attorney as soon as possible to help you with the process of evaluating your case and initiating a claim with any insurance company that applies to the event or the filing of a lawsuit against the owner or other party responsible for the dog at the time of the incident.