If you suffered a dog bite injury, you might be entitled to compensation from the dog’s owner. The Florida personal injury lawyers of Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A. has over 40 years of experience representing injured victims in cases like this and are ready to get you the justice you deserve.
Many dogs are friendly and gentle around people. However, some become aggressive when provoked or feel threatened if someone approaches them suddenly. No matter what breed you encounter, the teeth will be sharp and can puncture the skin with one bite. Injuries are often painful and require emergency medical treatment to prevent infections and other complications.
The medical bills you receive after a dog bite injury can be expensive and lead to financial strain. You might struggle to afford them and face possible debt. You should not be responsible for your incurred costs if your actions didn’t contribute to the attack. The dog’s owner should provide the compensation you need to cover your hospitalization, prescription drugs, and other expenses.
At Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A., our team of dedicated Florida dog bite injury attorneys understands how devastating this experience has been. An incident like this doesn’t cause only physical harm but emotional trauma as well. Even if your wounds heal, you could be left with life-long psychological issues, such as anxiety or a phobia of dogs. It’s unfair that you’re going through this when someone else is to blame.
Call Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A. at 561.689.8180 for a free consultation and learn about the legal options you have to hold the dog’s owner liable and seek the compensation you deserve.
Steps You Should Take Following a Dog Attack
A dog attack can leave you feeling scared, shocked, and confused. Most people don’t prepare for a dog bite injury or know how to handle the aftermath. You might think you can go home and rest. However, even a dog bite that seemingly caused minimal physical harm can lead to serious complications. Only a doctor can evaluate the injury and determine an appropriate treatment plan.
Once you leave the scene of the attack, go to the hospital. You should never “wait a few days” to see if the injury will heal on its own. Dogs carry bacteria in their mouths that can transfer to a person through an open wound. If you don’t get the shots necessary to prevent rabies and tetanus, you could end up with a life-threatening infection.
After the initial emergency room visit, follow up with all the medical providers the physician recommended. That means returning to the hospital for additional vaccinations, getting stitches to close up the wound, undergoing imaging testing, and taking prescription medications. You should do anything your doctor instructs you to do.
Some dog bite injuries cause permanent damage. You might need ongoing treatment to improve mobility, manage pain, and repair torn tissue or muscle. It’s critical to continue attending your appointments until your physicians release you from their care. If you choose to stop treatment too early, it could affect the outcome of your case.
While you’re treating your injury, maintain copies of all documents you receive. Medical records are vital in dog bite injury cases. There needs to be proof that you were attacked and suffered injuries. An insurance company will want to see a timeline of your treatment to confirm the severity of the injury and the costs you incurred.
Hire a Florida dog bite injury attorney to represent you immediately after the attack. Tackling this matter alone will be a challenge. You need someone with experience in your corner to guide you through the process and investigate the incident. Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A. has the resources to file an insurance claim on your behalf, obtain all available evidence, and prove your injury resulted from the dog biting you.
Leave the Investigation to Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A.
The Florida dog bite injury attorneys of Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A. know what it takes to investigate a dog attack thoroughly. When you hire us, we will use all the resources at our disposal to obtain evidence and create a strategy to try to reach your desired results.
The evidence we need will depend on the circumstances of the incident but could include:
- Documentation from animal control
- Police reports
- Eyewitness statements
- Video surveillance of the attack
- Medical records and bills
- Copy of the dog owner’s insurance policy
- Prescription drug costs, bank statements, and other documents showing out of pocket expenses
- Pictures of visible injuries
In some instances, an insurance claim is enough to cover the losses a dog bite victim suffered. However, if the insurance company denies the claim or offers a low settlement, it might be necessary to file a lawsuit. We can prepare all the legal documents we need to initiate the case in civil court and submit the evidence we found.
Florida Laws for Dog Bites
Florida follows a strict liability statute in dog bite cases. That means the owner becomes liable if their dog bites a person who is lawfully in a private place or on public property. It does not matter if the dog exhibited prior viciousness or the owner was aware of the dog’s viciousness before the attack. If you suffered losses from the injury, the owner should be financially responsible.
If a dangerous dog bit you, the owner could face criminal charges. State law defines a dangerous dog as a dog that has:
- Inflicted severe injury on a person on private or public property or aggressively bitten, endangered, or attacked someone;
- Caused severe injuries or killed a domestic animal more than once in an area other than the owner’s property; or
- Without being provoked, approached, or chased someone on the sidewalk, street, or another public place menacingly or with behavior indicating an attack that the appropriate authority investigated and one or more people provided sworn testimony.
This is a first-degree misdemeanor, and the owner could receive up to a one-year jail sentence and a $1,000 fine.
If you were trespassing at the time of the attack or the owner of a dangerous dog posted warning signs on their property, you might not be able to hold the dog’s owner liable for your injury. However, specific circumstances could allow you to pursue compensation for your losses.
Different counties have different laws for restraining or leashing dogs. For example, Orange County requires owners to use a leash under six feet long on their dogs at all times when they’re not on their own property, unless at a designated dog park. If someone breaks these leash laws, they could face fines and other punishments under the county ordinances.
Common Injuries Suffered in Dog Attacks
When a dog attacks someone, the victim could sustain various injuries. The initial bite isn’t the only problem. An infection could develop and have fatal consequences. Additionally, if the person falls to the ground, they could suffer a head injury, lacerations, and subsequent injuries.
The most common injuries associated with dog bites include:
- Injuries to the eyes
- Puncture wounds
- Psychological trauma
- Facial disfigurement
- Broken bones in the feet, fingers, hands, and toes
- Damage to nerves, tissue, and tendons
- Neck and head injuries
- Torn muscles and ligaments
Untreated injuries could lead to a range of complications. The most common are:
- Rabies – This viral infection can spread from a dog’s saliva throughout someone’s body from an open wound caused by the bite.
- Sepsis – Sepsis occurs when the body responds too aggressively to an infection.
- Pasteurella – Pasteurella is a common type of bacteria found in animal saliva. When a dog bites someone, the bacteria enter the body and can cause an infection.
- Amputation – If doctors can’t treat an infection, they might need to amputate a limb or extremity to prevent further spread.
- MRSA – Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a severe bacterial infection. The infection can develop if the wound becomes contaminated.
- Tetanus – A dog can transmit tetanus to a human through a bite wound. A doctor might need to administer a tetanus shot if the victim hasn’t had one in over ten years.
Dog bite victims can also suffer disfigurement and permanent scarring. A deep wound will require stitches and might not heal entirely. Sometimes, disfiguring injuries to the face or hands alter a person’s appearance. The visible reminders of what happened to you could result in mental illness, such as depression or anxiety. Many victims become fearful of all dogs and can never be around them again.
Compensation You Can Pursue in a Dog Bite Case
Regardless of where the incident occurred, you could file an insurance claim. If you were at someone’s house, ask if they have homeowner’s insurance. Instead of going after a friend or relative for compensation directly, you could file a claim with their homeowner’s insurance company. If you were on public property, such as a restaurant, you might be able to file a claim with the owner’s liability insurance carrier.
The compensation you receive could cover the losses you suffered, such as:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Damage to personal property
- Physical impairment or disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
In a lawsuit, you could also seek punitive damages. This award punishes the at-fault party for their actions instead of compensating you for your losses. You must provide clear and convincing evidence that the defendant exhibited gross negligence or intentional misconduct for a jury to award this to you.
Call Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A. Today
If you sustained a dog bite injury, call Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A. at 561.689.8180 immediately. One of our Florida dog bite injury attorneys can discuss your case with you during a free consultation and advise how we can help. Our team will fight by your side throughout the entire process for the justice and compensation you deserve.
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