A dog bite claim in Tampa is a civil action brought against the owner of a dog for injuries sustained as a result of a dog bite. The actual cause of action will be either a strict liability count or a negligence count. The strict liability count is established because in Florida, it is classified as a strict liability claim when a dog injures somebody. Further, an individual can also incorporate a count for negligence saying that the owner was negligent if they failed to restrain their dog properly.
With these in mind, if you have been injured from a dog bite in Tampa due to another’s negligence and are looking to file a claim, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. A knowledgeable Tampa dog bite lawyer can assist in building a claim to help produce a successful outcome on your behalf.
Injury Claims Process
In Florida, if a person files a dog bite claim, they file it in the county where the injury took place. The individual will file their Tampa dog bite claim in the county court if it is a small claim under $15,000, or in the circuit court if the damages are above $15,000.
Along with submitting the Tampa dog bite claim, it is required to pay the filing fee. The person has to follow the appropriate documents that have the correct facts and statutes that show what it is that the individual is filing. Most importantly, the person must file their Tampa dog bite claim in the appropriate court.
Also, it is important to note that the statute of limitations on a dog bite case is four years. That is what the negligence statute of limitations is.
Length of the Process
The length of time it takes to file a Tampa dog bite claim depends on the circumstances of the case. Usually, an attorney will recommend that an individual wait until treatment has been completed to file a dog bite claim.
If a lawyer is able to come to an agreement with the owner of the dog, then they will settle it without ever having to file a lawsuit. However, if they cannot, the suit will usually get filed within six to 12 months. The life of that case can then extend anywhere from 12 to 18 months.
Reaching a Settlement
After the Tampa dog bite claim is processed, a person goes to discovery where they are able to ask the dog owner questions. The individual will ask them questions verbally, or written questions, that are sworn to. After that, the individual takes depositions where their testimony is recorded by a court reporter. Then, the dog owner would be deposed. The person would also depose any other witnesses in the case.
Eventually, the accused individual would go to mediation to see if they can resolve the case without going to trial. If they cannot resolve the case and must go into trial, the injured individual will often hire experts that will talk about their injuries.
After the person hires experts, they can depose the experts, take the case to trial, and argue their Tampa dog bite claim in front of the six-person jury. They then come to a resolution, and decide who was liable and what the appropriate damages are.
Developing the Claim
The initial research that an attorney will do in a case that involves a dog bite is to:
- Try and figure out who the witnesses are that the accused individual is going to need in the case
- Figure out any pictures or surveillance the individual may have from where the dog bite occurred
- Try to put those elements together to prove who is liable and what the person’s damages are
When determining damages, an attorney will need the medical records and medical bills that they have compiled, and any out of pocket expenses if they have spent any. Once an attorney puts that together, they can start putting any witnesses in place to find out who the accused individual needs to prove each part of their case.
Impact on a Claim
Some of the things that may possibly impact a Tampa dog bite claim is if the dog had any other claims against it, if it has injured other parties, if there is any video surveillance of the dog attack, or if this person has been sued for negligently restraining the dog in the past. These can all be beneficial to the person’s claim.
History of Violence
Just because a dog has had a claim made against them in the past does not mean that it automatically gets removed from the home, put down, or anything of the sort. Sometimes, a dog can be prescribed training for things like that. Other times, the authorities may never have been made aware of the incident if the lawsuit was settled before it goes to trial or if the case is settled before it goes to the court so it is not on the public record. However, if an individual can get a hold of those claims, they can then use them in their current claim.
If an individual can prove that the dog has been violent in the past, they may be able to get punitive damages, which are damages used to punish excessive wrongdoing or grossly negligent actions. An attorney may argue that if an owner of a dog knew that their dog had violent tendencies and continued to let it around people, they are grossly negligent, putting other people’s safety in danger.
Negative Impact on a Claim
If an individual had pre-existing injuries that the dog bite exacerbated, it can have a negative impact on their claim. For example, if an individual had a back injury, the dog hurt them, and they have the same back injury, it may not look good in the claim building process.
Further, if there are no witnesses, no surveillance, and it is just the injured person’s testimony, that can have a negative impact on the claim. It makes the claim more difficult to prove. Also, if there is witness testimony that is in opposition to the injured person’s testimony, that can make it more difficult for their claim.