Many people in Southern Florida have dogs, and while dogs can be delightful companions and pets, they are nonetheless animals and can unexpectedly attack innocent victims. Dog bites can cause significant physical and emotional trauma that requires extensive care. Fortunately, people harmed by dogs can often recover damages from the dog’s owner to help mitigate their losses. If a dog bit you, it is in your best interest to consult an attorney regarding your potential claims. The dedicated Cape Coral personal injury lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the maximum compensation recoverable under the law. Our attorneys frequently represent people in personal injury lawsuits arising out of dog bites in Cape Coral and in Fort Myers and Naples as well.Florida’s Dog Bite Law
Dog bites can cause substantial injuries, including broken bones, torn ligaments and tendons, and scarring and disfigurement. Florida has a law that specifically addresses the responsibility of dog owners for bites caused by their animals. The “dog bite law,” as it is commonly referred to, is a strict liability statute. In other words, it generally allows for the imposition of liability on a dog owner for damages that arise out of dog bites, regardless of whether the owner acted negligently.
Specifically, the dog bite law states that anyone that owns a dog that bites a person is liable for the losses suffered by the person bitten, regardless of whether the dog previously acted in a vicious manner or if the owner knew of the dog’s propensity for ferociousness. The dog bite law applies irrespective of whether the attack took place in a public place or in a private place where the victim was lawfully permitted to be, including the owner’s property.
An owner of a dog that bites a person will not be deemed responsible for any harm suffered by the victim, however, if the owner had a prominently displayed sign that is easily readable and indicates the animal in question is a “Bad Dog” on the premises where the attack occurred. This exception does not apply when the victim is under the age of six or in cases in which the attack was caused by a negligent omission or act of the owner.
Further, if the person bitten acted negligently, and his or her negligence proximately caused the attack, the owner’s fault will be reduced by the percentage of the victim’s negligence. In other words, if the incident would not have occurred but for the negligent behavior of the victim, the owner’s liability will be decreased.
In addition to seeking damages under the dog bite law, a party injured in a dog attack may be able to pursue other claims as well, such as negligence. In Florida, proving negligence requires a plaintiff to show that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, which is generally the duty to act with relative care under the circumstances. The plaintiff must also prove that the defendant breached the duty and that the breach caused the plaintiff to suffer quantifiable harm.Damages Recoverable for Dog Bites
The dog bite law does not expressly define what damages a person harmed in a dog attack may recover. The Florida courts have interpreted the law to mean, however, that such damages include the cost of any medical care the victim required after the attack or will need in the future, lost wages if the person bitten was unable to work due to his or her injuries, and out-of-pocket expenses. Injured parties are often awarded compensation for their mental anguish, suffering, and pain as well.Speak to a Trusted Florida Lawyer
Dog bites often occur without warning, and in many instances, they cause significant injuries. If you were hurt in a dog attack, it is advisable to speak to an attorney about your rights. At Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A., our trusted Cape Coral lawyers take pride in helping injured parties seek justice for their losses, and if you engage our services, we will zealously pursue any damages you may be owed. Our offices are located in Cape Coral and Fort Myers and Naples, and we regularly represent people in lawsuits arising out of dog bites in Cape Coral, as well as in Naples and Fort Myers. You can contact us through our online form or at 800-283-7442 to set up a complimentary meeting.