Dog Bite Injuries

We here at Future Firm Law are proud pet owners, but we realize that there are many times that dogs can be involved in serious attacks on people and other animals. For thousands of years, dogs have been bred to hunt other animals and protect property and their own packs, and those innate instincts still exist. If, for some reason, a dog does choose to attack, the victim can be left to contend with emotional scarring, painful injuries and expensive medical bills. In the Tampa Bay region, however, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your injuries, as well as other damages you incur.

The state of Florida’s “Dog Bite Statute” (767.04) states that, “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 the persons bitten.” This statute holds true even if the dog’s owner had no previous knowledge of their dog’s aggression. If you or someone you care about has been injured by a dog, Future Firm law can provide you with compassionate and strong legal representation in your case.

Most Victims of Serious Dog Bites Are Children

Dogs have long been referred to as man’s best friend, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are always friendly to strangers. If a vicious dog decides to attack, they can cause serious injury to people of any age, particularly children. The Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons published a report which revealed that 551 children from ages 5 months to 18 years old were treated in the emergency room of a large children’s hospital for dog bites over a five-year period. What those figures translate to are staggering –at least one bite every three days in just this one particular hospital, from more than 30 different breeds of dogs. Preschoolers and infants who were involved in the study were primarily bitten in the face, while older children were bitten mainly on their arms and legs.

Dog attacks can be particularly traumatizing for young people, and can lead to lifelong physical disabilities and serious emotional injuries. As a parent, it can be challenging to cover the high costs of emergency room bills, long-term treatment and psychiatric care. However, under Florida state law, and with Future Firm Law representation, it may be possible for a victim to pursue a claim against the dog’s owner.

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Potential Injuries From Dog Bites

In addition to children, the elderly are also especially at risk from a dog attack. But depending on the aggression level and size of the dog, as well as the number of animals involved, even a healthy adult can be seriously injured by an unexpected dog attack. The injuries to the victim may include:

  • Infection – Dogs’ mouths carry many germs, including bacteria, and if a bite goes deep enough into the skin, the victim can also get blood poisoning. After being bitten, it’s important to immediately and thoroughly clean all dog bites, and getting medical attention is a wise decision.
  • Rabies – While most domesticated dogs don’t usually have rabies, they can sometimes tangle with wild animals like coyotes, raccoons, foxes and bats, from which they can contract the rabies virus. Because rabies makes animals much more aggressive, dog owners need to be aware of their dog’s behavior and physical condition, especially if their pets are kept outdoors, as well as get them a rabies vaccination, if their municipality requires it. Rabies can be fatal in humans if it is not caught and quickly treated.
  • Facial lacerations – Young children are typically more at risk for trauma to the face, neck and head, since children are usually smaller in stature, and dogs can easily reach their heads. Many victims of this size are left with serious trauma to their face, neck and head.
  • Damaged tissue or open wounds – If a large dog severs an artery or a vein, especially in the leg or upper arm, there is a possibility of bleeding out. When dogs latch on to a victim with their jaws, they often whip their heads back and forth. That violent motion can destroy and rip skin, nerves, muscle, connective tissue and more. If this happens to a dog bite victim, scarring and disfigurement are likely.
  • Dislocated and broken bones – Especially if a dog’s attack forces the victim to the ground, the victim can suffer fractures to the hip, elbows, wrists and hands. If the dog bites an extremity like the arm, and pulls on it, soft tissue can be damaged and the joint can even be dislocated.
  • Spinal cord injuries – Serious falls, particularly involving older adults, can cause catastrophic damage to the spinal column. If the fall involves being knocked down onto concrete or another hard surface, the victim can suffer intense pain, slipped discs or even paralysis.

Determining Liability for Slip and Fall Cases

If you’ve experienced a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, you may be able to recover damages for your injury, but liability can sometimes be hard to determine. The owner of the residence or business, or the person responsible for the property, is ultimately responsible for any injuries that occur there. Though there are sometimes exceptions to this rule, and each case is different, the owner of a property generally has a duty to maintain reasonably safe surroundings for visitors to the property. If your Future Firm Law attorney can prove that a property owner’s negligence led to the accident that caused your injury, you may be able to obtain compensation from the property owner’s insurance company.

Proving the property owner’s negligence requires at least one of the following three things to be true:
  • The owner knew about the hazard that led to your accident, but did nothing to correct it.
  • The owner actually caused the hazard that led to your accident.
  • The owner did not know about the hazard that caused the injury, but should have known and corrected it.
In the state of Florida, it’s possible for some of the liability to fall on the injured party in slip and fall cases. Florida has a Comparative Negligence statute, which means that when there is an accident, multiple parties can share fault. As long as your percentage of fault is not determined to be more than 50%, you may still recover damages.