Should I Call a Dog Bite Lawyer?Posted on: July 1, 2021
Bitten by man’s best friend?
A dog bite lawyer can get the justice you need.
Dogs are pretty much the perfect animal. What other living creature gives you that much unconditional love throughout its entire life? And all of us at Beers & Gordon have dogs that we consider part of the family. (You may even see one of them in the office when you stop in.)
But despite their saintly status, occasional tragedies do happen.
Every so often, a dog is provoked (knowingly or otherwise) into an attack, causing physical and psychological injuries that take considerable time to heal. And if you or a loved one were victimized by a dog, you might be wondering whether or not there is anything you can do about it.
After all, a dog can’t pay your medical bills.
In 2020 alone, there were nearly 17,000 dog bite claims in the U.S., with an average cost of $50,000 per claim—not exactly the kind of funds you can find in the couch cushions.
Luckily, personal injury law has your back. After severe injuries, get a dog bite lawyer to stand up for your rights and get the compensation you deserve.
What Are My Rights After a Dog Bite?
Whether they own a Maltese or a Mastiff, Florida law states that dog owners are liable for any injuries their pets cause.
It does not matter whether they believe the dog to be vicious or not. As long as the injured person was lawfully on the property (public or private), they have a right to file a claim against the dog owner’s insurance company for any severe injuries.
Under Florida law, the onus is on the dog’s owner—not the injured person—to control their animals and prevent serious injuries from occurring.
This doesn’t mean that you can walk around your neighborhood in a steak suit, however. If you are negligent in any way (including provoking the dog to attack) and are bitten as a result, you take some of the liability on yourself.
“[A]ny negligence on the part of the person bitten that is a proximate cause of the biting incident reduces the liability of the owner of the dog by the percentage that the bitten person’s negligence contributed to the biting incident. [FL Stat.767.04]”
Basically, this means any role you play in getting the dog to bite you reduces the dog owner’s liability for your injuries.
What About Dog Owners?
What if it was your dog that caused the injuries? Do you need an attorney?
In most cases, your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance will offer some kind of bodily liability coverage for anyone your dog may injure. This means that your insurance company—not you—will be paying for those stitches and antibiotics.
That being said, there are some extra actions you can take to further protect yourself, reduce your liability, and prevent your home insurance premiums from skyrocketing after a dog bite claim.
First of all, research whether your county, apartment building, HOA, or insurance company prohibits or restricts certain breeds.
For example, Miami-Dade County requires all pit bulls to be muzzled or confined indoors. Some insurance companies will not extend pet liability coverage to certain breeds. If you disregard these guidelines, you might find yourself financially responsible for a lot more than you bargained for.
Second, take precautions to ensure your dog remains under your control at all times. If they are able to roam freely around your neighborhood, this increases the likelihood that they will cause injury (and increases your liability as well). This is especially important if your dog has already bitten someone and/or been deemed a “dangerous dog.”
Lastly, dog owners can drastically reduce their liability by placing a legible “Bad Dog” sign in a prominent place on their property.
Dog injury cases are not limited to just dog bites, either. Even if your dog never touches anyone, you could be responsible if they attack or even scare someone into an injury-inducing incident.
For example, what if your loose dog knocks someone down or lunges and causes them to fall off a bike? As the owner, you could be held liable for allowing your dog to roam loose and cause an injury to another person.
Dog Injury Claims Call For a Dog Injury Lawyer
As you can see, the laws and procedures surrounding dog attacks are not the same as other personal injury laws.
With insurance coverage being restricted depending on certain breeds and temperaments, those who have been bitten by a dog may have a difficult time collecting the funds they deserve.
If you have been injured by a dog, you need an expert who is familiar with this particular aspect of the law. Contact Beers & Gordon today for a free consultation with a licensed attorney today to find out if you have a case.