Nearly 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, and one in five dog bites results in injuries serious enough to require medical attention, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Florida is in the top 10 states for animal bite insurance claims.
Since children love animals, and dogs in particular, they are the most common victims of serious dog bites. Seventy percent of fatal dog attacks, and more than half of bite wounds requiring medical attention involve children.
What is the Florida Law regarding dog bites?
According to Florida Statute 767.04, 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 persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.
Damages may be recovered in a successful animal bite claim including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, permanent disfiguring and scarring. In some cases where it is shown that the responsible party was not merely negligent, but was reckless or intentionally incited the injury, punitive damages may be sought.
What to do if you or someone you love has been bitten by a dog?
The first thing you should do is seek medical attention. Even what you may consider a minor bite may cause infection. If left untreated, the bite could lead to a serious injury or even death. Knowing whether the dog has had a rabies shot is important information for the medical care givers.
Get whatever information you can regarding the dog and its owner. This information includes the dog's breed, color, height, weight, and whether it was, or was not, leashed. Cell phone cameras are great for documenting this information.
"Being bitten by a dog, or other animal, is not only painful but can result in extensive treatment for scarring, skin repair and cosmetic damage, as well as the possibility of communicable diseases such as rabies, for which you would be required to have periodic injections. Seek legal advice from an experienced animal attack attorney," says Charlotte County Animal Attack Attorney, Randall Spivey of Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.
An owner needs to be conscious of their dog's aggression towards children or adults. If the dog growls, snarls, snaps at, lunges toward, or tries to bite children or adults, the owner must take precautions to ensure that the dog is never in a position to bite a child or adult. These dogs would be put in another part of the house when visitors are present. They should also be muzzled for walks if there is any chance of encountering children or adults, suggests the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
In spite of the fact that the animal owner is responsible for its dog's actions, there are some things parents can do to help protect their children. These include teaching children how to be around animals. The America Kennel Club recommends:
- Small children should never be left unsupervised with a pet.
- Children should be taught to always ask the owner for permission before they pat a dog.
- Respect a dog's space. Keep your hands away from a dog's fence. A dog considers its yard personal property and may growl or bite to protect it.
- "Let sleeping dogs lie" is a good rule to follow. That goes for a dog that is eating or drinking as well.
- Be cautious around a mother dog with her puppies. She will be naturally protective.
Charlotte County Animal Attack Attorney, Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by just one (1%) percent of Florida attorneys. He has handled over 2,000 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida. For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239.337.7483 or toll free at 1.888.477.4839,or by email to Randall@SpiveyLaw.com. Visit SpiveyLaw.com for more information. You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.in Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.