Florida has the second-highest rate of dog bite injuries in the nation, according to State Farm insurance data.
Dog bite prevention week is April 7-13 and is a good time to talk to your family members about staying safe around dogs.
Young children are at highest risk of dog bite injury. Our injury lawyers in Cape Coral and Fort Myers know these can be extremely serious cases, often involving facial injuries and scarring that can lead to long-term trauma and emotional problems for young victims.
WINK News reports a fifth-grader was attacked by a pit bull in Belle Glade recently. The boy was reportedly bitten at least 10 times on the face. A separate dog-bite incident in Cape Coral resulted in a child needing 31 stitches on his face.
Dog Bite Injuries in SWFL
The American Veterinary Medical Association reports about 1 in 5 people will be bitten by a dog seriously enough to require medical attention. More than 350,000 people are treated at hospital emergency rooms each year for non-fatal dog-related injuries. The Insurance Information Institute reports these claims cost homeowner insurers at least $675 million.
- Breed doesn’t (necessarily) matter: Any dog can bite. Even the family pet. However, larger breeds can quickly cause serious injury and owners of aggressive dogs or breeds owe an extra duty of care to ensure their animals do not victimize anyone.
- Responsible pet ownership: Choosing a dog that is right for your family, proper training and socialization of an animal, properly educating children and household members, and properly supervising your pet around strangers can go a long way toward reducing the risk of dog-bite injuries.
- Avoid risk: Avoid dogs who are not with an owner or handler and follow an owner’s advice when it comes to interacting with a strange animal. Never bother a dog that is sleeping or eating or a dog that is sick or injured.
Dog-Bite Injury Lawsuits
The Insurance Journal reports dog-related injury claims account for one-third of all claims made against homeowner’s insurance policies. More than 18,000 injury claims are made each year, with the average claim costing about $37,000.
Florida dog bite injury law is governed by F.S. 767.04, which holds dog owners responsible for damages resulting from dog bites that occur in public, or even those that occur on private property in cases where the victim was lawfully on the premises. Unlike some states, Florida law does not require that owners have knowledge of a dog’s viciousness. However, Florida’s laws on contributory negligence apply, which means any fault on the part of a victim can reduce a damage award by a corresponding percentage of blame.
In many cases, a dog bite involves a beloved family pet, or the pet of a friend or relative. It’s important to recognize in these cases that a claim will be made against a homeowner’s insurance policy and can be done in as amicable a manner as possible. Dog bites can result in long-term consequences, including infection, scarring and emotional issues. Ensuring the necessary resources are available for a victim to recover from a dog attack is best done by seeking the counsel of an experienced Fort Myers injury attorney as soon as possible after a serious dog attack.
If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.
Preventing Dog Bites, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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