Dog Bite/Dog Attacks
If You’ve Been Bitten, The Dog’s Owner is Liable
Beware of the Dog SignYou should know that the owner of a dog who is involved in a dog bite or attack is responsible for all damages resulting from that act of aggression. This means that the dog owner or his insurer must pay for all of your hospital and doctor bills. He must also fully compensate you for any injuries and permanent scarring that may occur. Regardless of whether the dog has bitten before, the owner remains “strictly liable” so long as you were not trespassing or provoking the dog in some way when the bite or attack occurred. Even injuries resulting from tripping or falling that occurred during an effort to escape from the animal are recoverable.
Act Fast to Preserve Valuable Evidence
Because photographs of dog bite injuries are graphic in nature, the preservation of this evidence can have a positive impact on the value of your case. The preservation of photographic evidence and documentation of the stages of your recovery are vital to your case, since they willl often show the gruesome nature of the lacerations and puncture wounds.
Homeowner’s Policies & Dog Bites
In many cases, a dog owner’s standard “homeowner’s” or “business owner’s” liability policy will cover injuries sustained as a result of their dog’s contact. St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorney Colleen Russo can quickly determine whether such a policy exists in your case. There are certain insurance policies that expressly exclude dog bite coverage for particular breeds such as the Doberman Pincher or Pit Bull. Colleen will investigate and assess the circumstances surrounding your dog bite and the availability of insurance coverage as soon as possible. In this way, you can get the immediate medical attention you need and the financial compensation you deserve.
As a former insurance company attorney, Colleen has first-hand knowledge on how insurance companies operate when evaluating and handling a motorcycle-related insurance claim. Put her experience to work for you today!
Call 727-578-0303 for a free consultation.
Myth: Dog bites only occur when you do something to aggravate a dog.
Fact: Dog bites can occur anywhere, at anytime for any reason. People own dogs with all types of personalities and varying degrees of training. Thus, your actions or inactions around a dog may have nothing to do with the reason for the dog bite or attack. A dog bite can happen very quickly and many times without any warning.
Myth: Only vicious dogs bite people.
Fact: All breeds of dogs will bite for reasons we are not aware of. Many dog bites occur when the dog has never before shown any tendency to be vicious.
Myth: If I am in a public place like a park or walking on a sidewalk and get bitten or attacked by a dog, there is no one I can hold responsible for the injuries I have sustained.
Fact: Your location when bitten by a dog is irrelevant, so long as you are not trespassing at the time of the attack. The dog owner is responsible for all damage caused by the actions of his dog, even when the dog strays from home.
Myth: You must be actually bitten by a dog before the insurance company can be persuaded to pay your claim.
Fact: The law in Florida is clear that the dog owner is responsible for “any and all actions” of his dog that result in an injury to another person. Therefore you do not have to be bitten to collect money for the injuries you may sustain as a result of being: (1) knocked down by a dog; (2) tripped by a dog; or (3) chased by a dog.
Myth: While visiting my brother’s home his dog bit my child. It’s just not right to make a claim against my own brother.
Fact: Certainly bringing a claim directly against a family member may be inappropriate. However, in most cases, your family member will have a homeowner’s insurance policy that will cover all medical expenses, as well as any pain and suffering resulting from the dog bite or attack. Your family member wisely paid insurance premiums in the event that such an unfortunate incident might occur. His insurance coverage is there for this very purpose. It would be imprudent not to use it for the benefit of your child’s medical care and any future expenses caused by his permanent injury and scarring.
Myth: I was bitten by friend’s Beagle, but I don’t have a claim because this breed of dog is not known to show a propensity for aggressive behavior like a Pit Bull or Doberman Pincher.
Fact: All dog owners are strictly liable for the actions of their dogs, regardless of the breed. Likewise, it is irrelevant whether a dog has bitten before or whether the owner believes his dog to be docile or vicious. Unless the victim provoked the attack or was trespassing on the property, the owner of the dog remains responsible for all damages resulting from the dog bite or attack.
Myth: My 2-year old was bitten while our family was visiting a friend’s home. Because I did not see how the dog bite occurred, I’m not sure who is at fault. I am now stuck paying for my child’s hospital and medical bills.
Fact: When a child under the age of 6 is bitten, regardless of what the child may have done to the dog, the dog owner remains solely responsible for all of the hospital, medical bills and pain and suffering resulting from the dog bite injuries. Any child under the age of 6 cannot be held responsible for actions on their part that could be interpreted as having provoked the attack.
Myth: I was knocked down by a loose dog and injured my back. Because I was not actually bitten or attacked, I won’t be able to make a claim for my medical bills.
Fact: It is the dog owner’s responsibility to keep his dog within a fenced yard or restrained by a leash. Thus, if a dog is permitted to run loose, any resulting injuries will be the dog owner’s sole responsibility.
Myth: My child was bitten by a neighbor’s dog but they rent their house and don’t have any homeowner’s insurance. I am stuck paying all of the hospital and medical bills.
Fact: When the dog owner is renting a house or apartment, under some circumstances the landlord himself may be held responsible for the dog’s actions. For example, when a landlord knows of the dangerous propensity of a dog that is allowed to remain on his property, he becomes responsible along with the dog owner for the safety of all others who visit the property. Under such circumstances, although the renter has no insurance, you can still make a claim against the landlord’s insurance policy for the medical expenses and pain suffered as a result of the dog bite or attack.
Myth: My 10-year old was recently bitten by a neighbor’s dog. As a result, he is now deathly afraid of all dogs. He is having nightmares which interfere with his sleep and performance in school. Although I can bring a claim for his medical bills and physical injuries, there isn’t anything I can do about my son’s psychological trauma.
Fact: Many people bitten or attacked by dogs suffer not only physical injuries but mental or psychological trauma as well. It is common for people who have been bitten or attacked by a dog to suffer post traumatic stress disorder. This problem should be addressed through psychological treatment. Because the psychological problems are directly related to the dog attack, the animal’s owner may be held responsible for the expenses related to treating both the physical and mental injuries.
Myth: I was bitten on the face by my friend’s dog and he is willing to pay for my initial treatment at the hospital. However, my doctor told me that I will need future surgery in six to twelve months to reduce the scarring on my cheek. I can’t afford to pay for this future treatment so I will probably be stuck with a long-lasting scar.
Fact: In many cases after the lacerations and deep puncture wounds heal, significant scarring is left which typically takes several surgeries and “scar revisions” to repair. An attorney can make sure that you do not settle your case before calculating and considering all of these future related expenses.
Myth: If I am invited to someone’s home and they have sign in their yard that says “Bad Dog” or “Beware of Dog,” then the owner can’t be held responsible for my injuries should I be bitten or attacked.
Fact: Having a “bad dog” sign displayed on his property does not always insulate the property owner from injuries caused by a dog bite or attack. It is important to consult with an attorney about the individual facts of your case.
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9721 Executive Center Dr. North, #120
St. Petersburg, FL 33702 Map
The Summit Building
Ulmerton Road and 58th Street N.
Clearwater, Florida 33760