Do Not Underestimate The Harm Done By A Dog Bite
A dog bite or any animal attack is no small matter when you may need plastic surgery. You may be at risk of infection, scarring and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well. If the bite broke the skin at all, you should get prompt medical attention. You should also consult with a lawyer to understand your legal rights and the potential liability of the dog’s owner or the owner of the property where you encountered the dog.
Are you worried about seeking legal advice because the dog’s owner is a friend or relative? I am attorney George C. Kezemides, a former insurance defense attorney with insights to help you overcome this and other hurdles in your way. I will inform you of your legal rights and then act to protect those rights with your consent.
Important Information About Dog Bites In Florida
In our state, dog owners are responsible for damages suffered by someone who has been bitten on public or private property. However, any negligence on the part of the injured person will reduce the damages they are awarded proportionately.
Dog bites to children have unique circumstances. If the injured person is your child who is under age 6, a reduction of damages for any “fault” by your child does not apply. As you prepare to file a claim, doctors may tell you that your child will need surgery years in the future to mitigate scarring.
Perhaps you are a young person just starting to pursue your personal and professional future. Serious scarring on your face or hands could have psychological and social consequences that should not be ignored.
To address issues that are unique to your case, turn to an accomplished trial attorney. As a former prosecutor, I know how to prepare compelling arguments to present to a claims adjuster, judge or jury.
Answers To Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Bites
Below, I’ve answered some of the questions prospective clients ask most often.
What are Florida’s liability laws for animal attacks and dog bite injuries?
Each state has its own laws regarding owner liability, but these laws generally fall into one of two categories. Some states recognize the “one-bite rule.” In such states, dog owners are typically not considered liable the first time their dog attacks someone because they did not have reason to know that the dog was aggressive. In other words, the dog gets one “free” bite.
Other states, including Florida, impose strict liability on dog owners. Essentially, dog owners are liable for any harm caused by their dog simply because they own it. There are exceptions to strict liability, including if a person was bitten while trespassing on the owner’s property or if they provoked the attack.
Who is responsible for paying medical bills and other costs after a dog bite?
In most cases, dog-bite injuries are covered by homeowner insurance policies. If the dog’s owner doesn’t have insurance or if that insurance has inadequate policy limits, dog owners can be held personally liable for partially or fully compensating victims.
I was bitten by a friend’s dog. Will I have to sue them to get compensated?
This is the biggest reason why many dog bite victims are hesitant to take legal action. As mentioned above, most dog bites are covered by homeowner insurance. If the friend is insured, you can file a claim against their policy. Many such claims can be settled without the need to go to court.
If the insurance company denies the claim or attempts to underpay, it may be necessary to pursue litigation. Your friend might be named as the insured in the litigation. However, you would ultimately be suing the insurance company, not your friend. Nonetheless, this can be a delicate issue, which is another reason to work with a knowledgeable and trusted attorney.
How much time do I have to take legal action after a dog bite?
As with most personal injury matters in Florida, the statute of limitation on dog bite claims is four years from the date of the injury. You will want to act well before the deadline, however, to ensure that evidence is retained and witness memories are not lost or faded.
Get A Free Legal Evaluation Of Your Dog Bite Or Animal Attack Case
If you were bitten or attacked, I hope you have already sought emergency medical treatment and an evaluation of your future medical needs. You also deserve legal advice and advocacy to support your full recovery. Protect your right to optimal compensation with professional help.
Call George C. Kezemides, P.A., at 727-490-9303 or send an email inquiry to schedule a free consultation. If I represent you, I will do so on a contingency fee basis. You will not owe attorney fees until I recover compensation for you.