While the majority of dog owners succeed in preventing their pets from harming others, there are an unfortunate number of incidents each year in which serious injuries or worse occur due to canine attacks.
The law affords victims of dog bites the opportunity to pursue substantial compensation for their losses, and owners of animals responsible for harming others can and regularly do face real liability. If you or someone you love has suffered the negative effects of an attack of this type, a Tampa dog bite lawyer is prepared to explore the facts of the case, conduct a thorough investigation and aid in the quest for justice on your behalf.
Impact of Dog Bites
While every dog bite attack is different and no two victims suffer in precisely the same way, certain types of injuries seem to be more prevalent than others. Common harm sustained by those bitten by dangerous dogs can produce substantial medical bills, pain, and trauma and can include:
- Deep scarring
- Lasting disfigurement
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Rabies and MRSA infection
- Post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological distress
Given the severity of these and other manifestations, it is important for those adversely affected by a dog attack to secure the legal help necessary to pursue justice and fair compensation.
Dog Bite Laws
The law in Florida regarding dog attacks is written in such a way as to provide comprehensive protection of the rights of those who are injured by dangerous animals. Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 767.04, strict liability attaches to the owner of any dog observed to have bitten another individual in a public place or while the injury victim is lawfully present on the owner’s property. This is always the case, whether the dog owner had any prior knowledge of the dog’s tendency toward aggression or viciousness.
Florida dog bite victims also have the option of seeking compensation pursuant to a theory of general negligence, negligence per se stemming from a leash law violation or via the doctrine of the intentional tort. Ultimately, a dog bite victim would do well to secure the insights and guidance of an experienced dog bite attorney in Tampa who can assess which theory of recovery provides the strongest chance of success under the relevant facts.
Defenses to Dog Bite Liability
Florida legislature has carved out an exception to the general strict liability applied to the owners of dogs that attack. Specifically, such individuals will not be held liable if at the time the events at issue occurred, they had a sign displayed in a conspicuous spot on the property that included the phrase “Bad Dog.”
This exception will apply unless the victim was six years old or younger or the harm suffered was the result of the owner’s own negligence.
Dog owners facing liability may attempt to utilize one of two potential defense strategies, those involving assertions of comparative negligence or of trespassing on the part of the victim. Those found to have been illegally present on a dog owner’s property will not be able to claim damages stemming from the attack.
Somewhat similarly, Florida’s comparative negligence doctrine provides that any monetary recovery awarded to a dog attack victim will be reduced in proportion to their share of the blame for what occurred. A Tampa dog bite lawyer can help you understand how these defenses will affect your case.
Working with A Dog Bite Attorney
The pain, inconvenience, and financial damage serious dog bite events routinely cause can be truly overwhelming. Therefore, it is vital that those harmed by vicious canines enlist the legal assistance necessary to obtain the resources to which they are entitled. Contact a Tampa dog bite attorney as soon as possible to begin your case.