Kissimmee Dog Bite Lawyer
Numerous sources cite Florida as a leading state with either the most or nearly the most dog bites in the country year after year. According to the Florida Department of Health, dog bites are responsible for 600 hospitalizations and two deaths annually. Dog bites are painful, frightening attacks that can leave permanent physical and emotional scars. Dog bite victims can suffer muscle and nerve damage, facial lacerations, and deep wounds and bacterial infections that put them at risk for rabies or sepsis and organ failure or death. Dog bites affect people in every age group, but children are among the hardest hit. They are among the most often attacked and often suffer the worst injuries or death.
Florida law places a lot of responsibility on dog owners, and dog bite victims have ways to recover compensation for the damage done to them. Dog owners and their insurance companies might nevertheless fight back against dog bite claims, so it’s essential to get representation from a qualified and experienced Kissimmee dog bite lawyer. At Draper Law Office in Kissimmee, our attorneys have been helping injury victims in Osceola County for decades. Not only do we fight strenuously to get you every penny you need and deserve, but we stand by you throughout your case with a high level of service, constant communication and personal attention. Please call us if you or a family member have suffered a dog bite or other animal attack. We offer a free, confidential initial consultation so we can learn the facts of your case, find out what your needs are, and let you know how we can help.
What Are Florida’s Laws Regarding Dog Bites?
Florida has what is known as “strict liability” when it comes to dog bites. This means as the injury victim, you do not have to prove the owner was negligent; instead, dog owners are “strictly liable” to victims for the injuries their animals inflict. Unlike in some other states, it also does not matter in Florida whether the owner had any prior knowledge that the dog might be vicious or attack. Even if this is the very first time the dog has acted aggressively, the owner is still liable.
This strict liability law applies to any attack that occurs on public property. It also applies to an attack that happens on private property, including the dog owner’s property, so long as the victim was lawfully on the property at the time.
Despite this “strict liability,” dog owners do have defenses they can raise to avoid or limit their responsibility to victims. For instance, while the victim does not have to prove that the owner was negligent if the owner can prove the victim was negligent and partially at-fault for the attack happening, the owner’s liability will be reduced by whatever percentage of responsibility is put on the victim. If the victim provoked the dog into biting, this is also a defense for the owner.
Dog owners can also avoid strict liability for an attack that occurs on their property if they had a “bad dog” sign posted in their yard. This defense does not apply to a victim under six years old, and it also is not a defense if the attack happened because the owner was negligent. A dog owner’s negligence might include letting the animal roam free in an unfenced yard, for instance.
What Is the Owner Responsible to the Victim for?
If successful in a dog bite claim, which might involve filing a lawsuit and going to court or settling outside of court with the owner or their insurance company, the victim can recover the full range of legal personal injury damages. After a severe dog bite, these damages might include compensation for the following:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Related expenses due to the incident
- Diminished capacity for enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Physical impairment
If the attack was fatal, family members could recover for mental pain and suffering, medical and funeral expenses, and the loss of companionship, support and services, in accordance with Florida’s wrongful death law.
Florida Dog Bite FAQs
If the owner of the dog was a tenant, is the landlord legally liable?
If the landlord knew that the tenant’s dog had a propensity for viciousness, (i.e., knew that the dog had bitten others on prior occasions), then the landlord may be responsible for your child’s medical bills and injuries.
Will the dog owner be responsible to pay for my child’s injuries, including any scarring or disfigurement?
That depends. In determining the dog owner’s legal liability, several factors, including the use of a “Bad Dog” warning sign, whether the dog was provoked, the age of your child, and other factors will be important to consider. If it is ultimately determined that the dog owner is legally liable, then he/she will be responsible to compensate for your child’s injuries.
Draper Law Office Is Here for You After a Dog Bite or Animal Attack in Osceola County
Whether proving strict liability or negligence, justifying the amount of damages sought, or fighting back against dog owner defenses to liability, the skills of an experienced Kissimmee dog bite lawyer can prove invaluable to the success of your case. In Osceola County, call Draper Law Office in Kissimmee at 407-846-0075.