Dog Owner’s Responsibility
Florida law affirms a dog owner is responsible for their pet’s behavior with a few exceptions. If a dog bites someone, the owner is responsible. This stands even if the pet is not a breed that’s categorized as dangerous or has never attacked anyone before.
Pinellas County law mandates dog owners have direct and continuous control of their pets when they’re off their property. A leash strong enough to restrain the dog must be used at all times. But if the dog bites or attacks someone while the animal is restrained, the owner remains responsible.
A dog owner may not always be liable for trespassers who are attacked on their property. However, dog owners are responsible if a child under six years old is bitten, even if they were trespassing. The owner must have a legible sign in plain view with the phrase, “Beware of Dog,” or else they will be held responsible for any trespasser who is bitten regardless of the victim’s age.
What You Should Do After a Dog Attack
First, make sure you are safe. Don’t do anything to risk the dog coming back and attacking again.
Get medical attention after a dog bite. Not all dogs are vaccinated for rabies and other diseases. If they’re not treated right away, dog bite wounds could become seriously infected. Seeking treatment also creates a record of your injuries.
Notify the police of the dog attack. Obtaining a police report will help collect crucial details for your claim. You may also need to call animal control so they can investigate and help find the dog’s owner if necessary. In St. Petersburg and Hillsborough County, you can file a report online on their website or call them at 813-744-5660.
If you can’t find the owner, take a picture of the dog (if you can) to help track down the owner later. Snap photos of your injuries before you get treated to document their severity. If something in the area may have triggered the attack, take a picture of that as well.
If the owner is present, exchange information as you would at the scene of a Car Accident. Get the owner’s name, address, and Contact information, and give him or her yours. Be cordial, but try not to talk with the owner about the attack at this time. If they try to talk you out of calling the authorities or offer you money to take care of the situation, you should decline firmly and politely.
See if you can get the names of the people who saw the dog attack. These witnesses could be valuable when it comes to verifying the facts of your case later. Write down the name, address, and contact information of anyone who witnessed what happened. If you don’t get this information at the time of the incident, it may be difficult to track those people down later.
Dog Bite Compensation
Dog bites are painful events that can lead to lost work time, physical and emotional pain, and costly medical treatment. It is within your rights to seek reimbursement from the dog owner for these expenses.
Medical bills add up fast. You can seek reimbursement for doctor bills, hospital or emergency room costs, prescription drug costs, and any other medical expenses that stem from your attack.
During recovery, you may miss a lot of work. You can seek reimbursement for lost wages. If your injury makes you less productive at your job, you can seek reimbursement for diminished earning capacity.
Dog attacks are very painful, and bite wounds often take weeks to heal. You have every right to seek reimbursement for your suffering. Your dog bite attorney in St. Petersburg will work to get compensation from the dog owner’s insurance company for your pain and suffering. If your lawsuit goes to trial, the court will dictate compensation.
Being attacked by a dog is traumatic. You may also ask for reimbursement for the mental and emotional pain you’re suffering. The compensation amount is typically decided similarly to its physical counterpart.
What If the Dog Bite Is Partly My Fault?
Often, insurance companies attempt to coerce dog bite victims into accepting a low settlement by pointing to something you may have done to cause the attack. This can especially happen with kids who were bitten by dogs.
Children may provoke a dog to attack by grabbing a toy or doing something the dog perceives as threatening. But kids typically don’t know how their behavior will affect a dog and may not purposely be trying to engage the pet.
Florida dog attack law states that even if you (or your child) were partially at fault for the dog bite, you are still owed reimbursement for your injuries. If the court rules the victim contributed to the incident, compensation may be reduced.
For example, if a person was teasing a dog that attacked them, the court may rule the victim played a role in the outcome. The court will figure out the percentage the victim contributed. In this instance, the court may determine the victim was 10% liable. If the total damages were $100,000 in the case, the victim’s reimbursement would be reduced by 10%. The victim would get a $90,000 settlement.
Even if you somehow played a part in the dog attack, you can’t be denied compensation because you were partly to blame. You also don’t have to accept the insurance company’s conclusion of your degree of responsibility. You are still owed fair compensation even if you were partially at fault.
Call Bulluck Law Group
Bulluck Law Group treats each of our clients with respect and care. We understand a dog bite is a traumatic and painful injury. Set up a free evaluation of your case by calling us today. We will listen to your side of the story, and see what we can do to help.
Our dog bite lawyers in St. Petersburg will give you an honest evaluation of your case—plus an estimate of the compensation you may be owed. Our No Recovery, No Fee Promise means you don’t owe a dime unless your lawyer gets a settlement or wins a verdict. Let our experience work for you today.