Articles Posted in Dog Bite Injuries

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Dogs can be our best friends – but also the source of legal liability if they bite someone bite

Florida law establishes a system of strict liability when it comes to the responsibility of the owner to cover damages caused when their dog bites someone – even if the dog had never bitten anyone else before or previously showed aggression or viciousness. However, with landlords, it is a bit different.

You may have noticed that some landlords are reluctant to rent to tenants who have dogs – or certain types of dogs – and that is due to concern that if the dog injures somebody, the landlord could be found legally responsible. However, it’s not as cut-and-dried as it is for the dog owner. Continue reading →

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While nearly 10,000 dog bites every year in the U.S. require emergency medical treatment, only a small percentage are fatal. According to, at least 31 people died in dog bite-related incidents last year. dog bite

In a recent wrongful death lawsuit before the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, the widow of an elderly man who died after he was viciously attacked by several dogs while walking near his home sued the county and the county’s dog warden alleging negligence in performing statutory duty. Specifically, the widow asserted the dog warden allowed the vicious dogs to remain at-large, resulting in wrongful death. The warden was sued both personally and in her individual capacity. Plaintiff sought compensatory as well as punitive damages, alleging the violations were willful, wanton and reckless.  (It should be noted that while the homeowner where the dogs resided was acquitted of criminal wrongdoing, but the owner of the dogs pleaded guilty to nine misdemeanors, including involuntary manslaughter. All the dogs were euthanized.)

The county moved to dismiss the wrongful death dog bite lawsuit, citing the public duty doctrine.  Continue reading →

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Florida’s dog bite injury statute, F.S. 767.04, indicates that people who own dogs or are responsible for controlling them may be liable if that person bites a dog – regardless of whether the dog had previously shown a propensity to bite or be vicious. pitbull

However, every state has a different approach to liability. Others don’t afford the same protections as as our state.

For example in Georgia, the law requires a finding that the owner/ controller of the dog knew or should have known it was dangerous or had a propensity to be vicious. In a recent case before the Georgia Supreme Court, justices were asked to consider whether this alleged knowledge of the dog’s viciousness was a matter of law for a judge to decide or a matter of fact for a jury. Justices sided with the latter interpretation, reversing the appellate court and remanding the injury case for a trial by jury.  Continue reading →

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A boy in Connecticut was just 13 when he suffered severe and disfiguring injuries when a Labrador retriever allegedly attacked him without provocation three years ago while he was visiting a friend. Today, at 16, he has endured 10 surgeries and will likely need to undergo at least two more. After surgeons reattached skin around his eye that was ripped off in the attack, he has a permanent scar around his mouth. His lip bulges out and droops when he smiles. He has a raised, red scar on his chest and other reminders of the attack. labrador2

Now, a judge has announced the owners of that dog must pay $1.4 million in damages. Of that, $250,000 is supposed to go to his parents for medical bills. The rest is to compensate him for his pain and suffering, according to

How much of that money they’ll actually see, however, isn’t clear. The owners of the dog were living in a rented apartment at the time of the incident, and they didn’t have renter’s insurance. Typically, renters’ insurance or homeowners’ insurance would cover damages in these cases. In the absence of that type of coverage, the victim can pursue recovery of damages directly from the dog owners. In this case, plaintiff’s attorney said the family will be working with another lawyer to collect as much as possible, which will involve an assessment of defendant’s earnings and assets.  Continue reading →

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Every year, homeowner insurance companies in Florida pay $7 million annually to victims of dog bite injuries. Some argue this is the work of overly-litigious personal injury lawyers. But the fact is, dog bites that result in lawsuits are generally not minor events. They cause severe and lasting injuries and scarring, as well as significant medical expenses. pitbull

In some instances, particularly when the victim is a young child or elderly, these attacks can be fatal.

While any dog may be the subject of these cases, some tend to have a reputation for being more likely to attack or to cause more serious injuries. Without question, the most commonly cited is the pit bull.

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Dog bites and attacks in Florida cost pet owners some $7 million annually, with Lee County Animal Services reporting approximately 1,400 individuals are hospitalized annually for dog bites here alone.

Some of these injuries are severe and a few even end in death.

F.S. 767.04 deals with a dog owner’s liability for damages to a person bitten. The law states the owner of a dog who bites any person who is in a public space or lawfully in a private space is liable for such damages, regardless of whether the owner had knowledge of any prior viciousness. However, negligence on the part of the person bitten reduces owner liability, except if the victim is 6 or younger.

Many other states have similar laws, and homeowner insurance policies usually cover damages when injuries occur as a result of a pet attack. However, the question was recently raised before the Wisconsin Supreme Court whether liability could still be incurred even if the owner of the dogs, who lived in the home where the bite occurred, was not also the owner of the home.
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During a recent Dog Bite Prevention awareness effort, Lee County Animal Control officials noted there are approximately 1,400 animal bite cases annually – and those are only the incidents for which individuals seek hospitalization.
Lehigh Acres dog bite attorneys note that 8 out of 10 of those victims are 13 or younger, and nearly all know the dog and have interacted with it regularly prior to the incident. Dog bite injuries are usually covered under homeowner’s insurance. However, insurance firms will seek to minimize their liability if possible, so a court battle sometimes ensues.

Such was the case recently in Maddox v. Florida Farm Bureau, where a mother in Brevard fought to claim the full $100,000 policy limit for injuries she sustained when her boyfriend’s dog bit her. The issue was that her son had sustained dog bite injuries from the same animal moments earlier. The insurance company had awarded the full $100,000 policy limit to the child, and argued the mother’s injuries were part of the same “occurrence.”
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A dog that cornered a group of high school students, biting a 14-year-old boy and one other, was shot and wounded by a police officer in South Florida recently.
The Tampa Bay Times reports the dog, which was described as a mixed breed, broke loose from a chain in a back yard, and then wandered into an intersection, where it attacked a 14-year-old boy who was on his way to school. The dog then cornered a group of students, aggressively barking and nipping at them.

A 44-year-old woman driving by saw what was happening and intervened, grabbing a rake from the back of her car to fend off the dog while the students fled into a yard that was protected by a fence. She too was bitten on the leg by the dog before the officer arrived. The dog lunged at the cop, who then shot it in the shoulder.
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For many lucky homes, a new puppy will be part of the holiday plans. For others, a constant flow of holiday company will require special consideration for family pets.

Prospective families should do their research and take all of the proper safety precautions to make sure that the transition is as smooth as possible.

According, you can count on a dog marking or having accidents in the first few days, even if he was house-trained. Have pet-specific cleaning products on hand. Also be prepared for other transitional behavioral problems and integrate your pet into the family’s life in stages.

Our dog bite attorneys in Fort Myers understand that getting your new dog acclimated to your home, and your home acclimated to your new dog, can take anywhere from a few days to several months and it is a process that should be allowed to occur naturally — not rushed. The key to helping your new dog make a successful adjustment to your home is being prepared and being patient. First, bear in mind your new adoptee is under a lot of stress. And your new pet has no way to know what’s coming next. It’s a lot to take in even for the friendliest of animals.
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Summer in Florida is a time when kids are out of school and when people take vacations and spend time outdoors. Unfortunately, the more time everyone is spending outside at parks and in neighborhoods, the greater the chances of a dog bite incident occurring. 1267447_muzzled.jpg

While dogs can be man’s best friend, our Fort Myers dog bite attorneys know that they can also cause serious harm if they bite or attack. It is essential that everyone do what they can to stay safe this summer and avoid a bite incident.

Florida Dog Bite Laws
Under Florida law, dog owners are strictly liable if their dog bites someone. This means that a person who has a dog can be held responsible for paying for all costs and losses caused by a dog bite regardless of whether the dog has ever bitten anyone before. As long as the bite occurred when the victim was lawfully on private property or occurred in a public location and as long as the dog wasn’t provoked, the dog’s owner is to blame.

Dog owners can also be held liable based on their negligence if they knowingly have a dangerous dog.

With Florida’s strict liability rules for dog owners, everyone who has a dog should take care to prevent their dog from biting others. Dog owners should:

  • Seek behavioral training for any signs of aggression.
  • Refrain from leaving their dog chained up and alone for many hours, which can foster aggression.
  • Socialize and train their dogs in proper behavior from the time the animals are puppies.
  • Keep their dogs on leashes and/or in secured homes or yards at all times.

Ultimately, each dog owner must take responsibility for preventing injury to others. It is the dog owner who will need to pay for the costs of injuries and it is the dog owner who is in the best position to stop a bite or attack before it starts.

Don’t Become a Dog Bite Victim While the dog owner is primarily responsible for his or her dog’s behavior, this doesn’t mean that everyone else shouldn’t take steps to protect themselves from dog bites as well. It is also especially important for parents to teach their children how to be safe around dogs.

Some tips to ensure you do not become the victim of a dog attack include:

  • Never approaching strange dogs that you do not know. If you or your child wishes to pet a dog, ask the owner first.
  • Staying away from dogs that are eating and avoiding taking a toy from a dog. Some dogs become aggressive or guard their food or possessions and you don’t want to take a chance of getting bit by a dog that has guarding tendencies.
  • Teaching your children how to interact safely with dogs, including letting the dog sniff their hands before petting and treating dogs with kindness.
  • Supervising children when they are around dogs.
  • Refraining from yelling, shouting or using high pitched and nervous voices around strange or aggressive dogs, as this can increase excitement and up the chances of someone getting hurt.

By following these basic safety tips, you can hopefully stay safe around all dogs that you encounter and avoid a dangerous bite or attack incident this summer season.
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