Orlando Dog Bite Attorney
Dog Bites & Animal Attacks in Florida
Every year, millions of Americans are bitten by dogs. Tragically, most dog bite victims are children under the age of three. And, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), Florida is consistently among the leading states when it comes to dog bites and attacks; in 2020, Florida was home to the second-highest number of dog bite claims in the U.S., right behind California.
All this to say, dog bites are incredibly common in the U.S. and in Florida—but that doesn’t mean an attack is any less devastating when it happens to you or someone you love. At NeJame Law, our Orlando dog bite attorneys understand the physical, emotional, and financial consequences associated with dog and other animal attacks, and we are here to help. This is an incredibly difficult time for you and you family, but our firm is here to guide you through the legal process with compassion and a dedication to securing the justice you need to heal.
Holding Dog Owners Accountable
Generally speaking, states follow one of two types of dog bite statutes; under a one-bite rule, victims must prove that the dog had previously bitten another person and/or that the dog owner had knowledge or should have known about the dog’s propensity to bite, yet negligently failed to take reasonable measures to prevent the dog from causing injury. In other words, under the one-bite rule, the victim must prove the dog owner was negligent to have a claim. In states that follow strict liability rules for dog bites, however, dog owners are generally always liable for injuries caused by their pets.
Florida follows the strict liability rule when it comes to dog bites.
This means you can hold a dog owner accountable if the following are true:
- You were bitten by the dog, and;
- You did not provoke the dog, and;
- You were lawfully on private property, or;
- You were on public property when the bite occurred.
Note that you do not need to prove that the dog owner was negligent to have grounds for a claim. Even if the dog was on a leash when it bit you, or if the dog had never acted aggressively before, you could still be entitled to compensation for your injuries. As long as you can prove that you were not trespassing when the bite occurred, you likely have grounds for a case.
Although many people are reluctant to file dog bite claims, especially when the dog was a friend or neighbor’s pet, victims of serious attacks deserve justice. Dog bites often cause severe injuries requiring emergency medical treatment, hospitalization, and ongoing care. They also commonly lead to immense emotional trauma, anxiety, fear, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You should not have to simply suffer the physical, emotional, and financial consequences of a dog bite on your own.
Most homeowners’ insurance policies cover dog bites. When you file a claim, you typically file it against the insurance company, not the dog owner. Pet owners have these policies for this very reason; you should not hesitate to seek the fair compensation you are owed—and NeJame Law can help.
What About Non-Bite Injuries?
Florida’s strict liability dog bite statute only covers bite-related injuries. However, if you were injured but not bitten by a dog, you could still have a claim against the dog owner if you can prove that he or she was negligent and that this was the cause of your injuries. In other words, if you were knocked down, scratched, or otherwise injured by a dog that did not bite, you can bring a standard personal injury claim against the dog’s owner, keeper, or handler in certain circumstances.
To do so, you will need to prove the following:
- You were injured by the dog
- You suffered measurable damages
- The dog owner acted negligently or wrongfully
- The owner’s negligent or wrongful conduct was the cause of your injuries
For example, if a person allowed their dog to roam “at large” (that is, off leash) in a public park where dogs must be leashed, and that dog knocked you down, causing you to break your wrist and suffer a concussion due to the fall, you could have a claim against the dog owner. Breaking the leash law and permitting the dog to run free are examples of negligence on the part of the dog’s owner and could serve as grounds for a claim.
What Defenses Do Dog Owners Have?
Because the law specifies that dog owners are liable for bites that occur
when the victim is on public property or lawfully on private property,
trespassing is one of the most commonly used defenses in dog bite cases.
If the dog owner alleges that you were trespassing on private property
when you were attacked and bitten, you could have a difficult time filing
a claim and recovering damages.
Similarly, in Florida, dog owners are often protected from liability when they post signs indicating that there is a dog on the property. Specifically, posting “bad dog” signs as a warning to potential visitors, guests, and others who may come to the property could serve as a viable defense in a dog bite case. Note, however, that this does not apply in instances in which the dog owner was negligent or when the victim is less than six years old.
Dog owners may also be able to defend themselves from liability if they can prove that the victim provoked the dog. Under the state’s comparative negligence laws, the dog owner may only have partial liability or may not be liable at all if it is discovered that the victim partially or totally caused the attack, whether by provoking the dog or through some other negligent or wrongful conduct.
Your Time to File a Dog Bite Claim Is Limited
As with other types of personal injury claims, there is a statute of limitations on dog bite lawsuits in Florida. The deadline to file your claim is four years from the date of the attack/injury. There are very few exceptions and, in most cases, if you fail to file a lawsuit within four years, you will lose your right to recover compensation.
The sooner you reach out to our Orlando dog bite lawyers, the better. When you hire our firm, we will immediately begin gathering evidence and putting together a powerful case that outlines the full extent of your damages, including your current and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. At NeJame Law, we fight for maximum compensation for our clients, all while providing the attentive, personalized support they need and deserve.
Contact Us Today to Learn How We Can Help
We know that nothing can negate the trauma of being bitten by a dog or
the incredible loss of
losing a child or loved one to a dog attack. At NeJame Law, we believe that dog owners, keepers, and
handlers should be held accountable when their pets injure and kill others—and
we have seen firsthand how a fair settlement or verdict can allow victims to heal.
We care deeply about our clients and our community. At NeJame Law, we strive to hold dog owners accountable to not only ensure our clients receive the fair compensation they are owed but also to help promote a better, safer community for all. If you were injured or if someone you love died due to a dog bite or attack, turn to our team for the caring advocacy and aggressive representation you need.