What Do I Do if I am Bitten by a Dog?
Like many other Floridians, I absolutely love dogs. Florida is one of the most dog-friendly states with numerous pet-friendly establishments in just about every city, so it’s not rare to see dogs out and about with their owners on public streets. While dogs are considered man’s best friend, they are still living breathing animals with their own brains, and can be unpredictable at times. This is especially true if they are in an unfamiliar area or if they are meeting a new person for the first time. But, you can’t always blame the dog; dogs that have not had proper training lack manners and even the most basic knowledge of the fact that they should not be aggressive towards other humans. If you had the unfortunate experience of being bitten by a dog, you need to know what comes next.
Florida Dog Bite Law
Even though the state of Florida seems to be very accommodating of dogs in public places, their laws have very little tolerance for dog bites. Florida statute 767.04 states that the dog’s owner is liable for any injuries if the dog bites another person and the victim is in a public place or lawfully in a private place. Florida has a statute of limitations when it comes to filing a lawsuit for injuries sustained after a dog bite. If you’ve been bitten, you have up to 4 years to file a lawsuit in Florida’s civil court system, and if you do not do so within that amount of time, your case will likely be thrown out. However, hiring an attorney to handle a dog bite incident does not necessarily mean you have to sue the dog owner. It’s beneficial to have a dog bite lawyer on hand that can help you deal with your insurance company so that the claim gets resolved without it having to go to court.
When it comes to dog bites, Florida is a “strict liability” state. This means that even if the dog’s owner had no prior knowledge or warning that the dog might bite another person, the owner could still be held responsible for your injuries– you don’t even have to prove that a lack of reasonable care caused the dog to bite.
What You Should Do After a Bite
The first thing you should do after you are bitten by a dog is clean and treat the wound. If it is serious, you should seek medical attention. Next, you should collect the information of the dog owner and any witnesses who saw the dog bite you, including names, phone numbers, and addresses. Photos are the best evidence, so take as many pictures of the wound as you can. If you feel the dog is a danger to the public, you can file a report with an animal control agency in your jurisdiction. This could result in the dog being confiscated. If you were bitten by a stray dog and cannot identify an owner, then you could be subject to rabies shots and other medical examinations.
It may be a good option to sue the dog’s owner to obtain compensation for any injuries you sustained. This compensation could help you pay any medical bills you’ve acquired, help you recover lost wages, and aid with the cost of future cosmetic surgery should that be a necessity. If it turns out that a biting dog’s owner is insured, then you may be contacted by their insurance agency. If this happens, you should ask the representative the following questions:
- Name of the insurance company
- Address of their office
- Telephone number
- Claim number
- Name of the person who is insured
- The amount of money available to pay medical expenses
You should not discuss the exchange of money, write the insurance agency a letter or memo, explain who is at fault, or offer any settlement details– leave this to your attorney.
Surprisingly, less than 1% of dog bite victims actually get compensated for their injuries. If you do not have an attorney to handle your case, the chances of you recuperating any damages is severely lower than if you do hire an attorney. It is difficult for a dog bite victim to determine how much he or she is owed for their injuries, and an attorney has the resources needed to make an educated decision in that regard. The whole process will most likely be quicker with an attorney working on your behalf as well, and your case will probably settle out of court and without a trial.
If you are bitten by a dog, my objective is simple: I want to get you the compensation you deserve. If the bite is not your fault, you should not have to carry the weight of a lawsuit or insurance dispute on your shoulders. Let your attorney handle the details of your case while you recuperate, and know that your case will be managed with care and diligence.
In the future, it is best to be on the lookout when you are encountering dogs in public. Be aware of the warning signs that dogs may show, such as anxious behavior, pinned ears, or tucked tails. These signs of fear or aggression will make you think twice before approaching. Dog bites can be prevented, and it is the dog owner’s responsibility to ensure the safety of their fellow humans.