A canine attack can be both a serious and traumatic event that can cause lifelong disabilities or even lead to death. You may be eligible for compensation if you were bitten or injured by a dog in Florida. Our Palm Beach Gardens dog bite attorney can help you recover compensation.
Many people believe that dog bites mostly come from aggressive dog breeds, such as rottweilers and pit bulls. However, most Florida dog bite injuries come from unsuspecting breeds like labradors, golden retrievers, and even poodles. Shockingly, dog bites cause nearly $1 billion in damages annually in the United States. These claims are not only from dog bites, but also damages related to dogs knocking down children, bicyclists, and the elderly, which can result in serious injury.
Understanding Florida Dog Bite Laws
Florida Statute 767.04 holds dog owners liable when their animal bites or injures someone. The Florida dog bite law directly states:
"The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness."
This law allows for the ability to recover compensation for losses caused by a dog bite, even if the dog's owner was unaware of the animal's aggressive tendencies. If it is found that the owner was aware of the dog's aggression and failed to take precautions to protect you, you may be able to make a claim based on the owner's negligent failure to avoid injury. In other words, the owner of a dog can be held liable just as they can with a weapon such as a loaded gun.
Who is Liable for a Dog Bite?
In Florida, you are responsible if your dog bites someone, kinda no matter what. However, there are some instances where liability doesn’t apply to the owner. In the video below, experienced Palm Beach Gardens dog bite attorney Matthew Konecky explains liability concerns for canine attacks in Florida.
I Was Bitten by a Dog, But The Owner Had a “Bad Dog” Sign Posted
Florida Statute 767.04 has one exception in terms of dog bite liability. This provision states:
"However, the owner is not liable, except as to a person under the age of 6, or unless the damages are proximately caused by a negligent act or omission of the owner, if at the time of any such injury the owner had displayed in a prominent place on his or her premises a sign easily readable including the words “Bad Dog."
If the dog's owner has an obvious and readable sign that warns individuals that their dog is dangerous, they may not be held liable. With the help of a West Palm Beach dog bite lawyer, it is important to analyze questions such as:
- Was the victim age six or older?
- Where did the dog bite occur? (Public or private property)
- Was a "Bad Dog" or "Beware of Dog" sign displayed in a prominent place?
- Was the sign readable?
- Did the victim read the sign?
Exceptions to the "Bad Dog" Sign Rule
Despite having a sign that reads "Bad Dog," the facts and circumstances of the case can still lead to a claim. No matter the breed of the dog, even if the dog is not aggressive, having a "Bad Dog" sign can help reduce liability in the event of that dog injuring another individual. If a dog bit you in a public area, or your dog has injured someone in public however, you are entirely liable for that individual's injury. If you were bitten by your neighbor's dog on their property, for example, you can potentially recover compensation through their homeowner's insurance policy.
Gathering Evidence After a Canine Attack
If you were bitten by a dog in Florida, it is important to begin gathering relevant information as soon as possible after receiving proper medical attention. It is imperative to note the time, date, and location of the dog bite as well as statements from anyone who may have witnessed the attack. Some additional information to collect can be:
- Owner of the animal's information
- Photos of the animal
- Photos of the injury(s)
- Proof of rabies vaccination (from the owner of the animal)
- Dog license information (dogs 4 months and older must be licensed and wear a tag in Florida)
- Information regarding any past dog bite incidents
How Long Do You Have to File a Dog Bite Claim?
In the video below, our dog bite lawyer in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, discusses the statute of limitations for injury cases in Florida:
How to Find the Best Dog Bite Attorney in Palm Beach Gardens
There are several ways you can attempt to find the best Palm Beach Gardens dog bite attorney to represent you, including:
- Read Online Reviews. One of the best things you can do is read testimonials from previous clients. It will give you a unique insight into the client/lawyer relationship you can expect.
- Turn to Family and Friends. You trust your friends and family more than anyone, so why not ask if they have any recommendations? Unlike the technique above, where you're reading testimonials from strangers, getting a good review from a loved one can have a bigger impact on your decision.
- Set Up Consultations. Most of, if not all, personal injury attorneys will offer free case evaluations. Take advantage of these. Whether in-person or over the phone, be curious. Ask questions, lots of them. Ask about their experience with dog bite cases. Not every injury attorney takes on these kinds of cases, so you must find one that has had success dealing with similar cases.
While there are other methods of vetting potential attorneys, these three are a good jumping-off point for anyone beginning their initial search.
Contact Our Palm Beach Gardens Dog Bite Lawyer for a Consultation
Negotiating a dog bite settlement on your own can be difficult. A West Palm Beach dog bite lawyer can assist in negotiating a proper settlement on your behalf while you recover from your injuries.
If a dog attacked you or your loved one, contact us online by clicking the button above or calling (561) 671-5995 to speak with a valued member of our personal injury law firm.