There is a reason why Maravilla Park is the ONLY dog-friendly park in Fort Pierce. Plus, while the city’s residents love their four-legged canine companions, even if they want to, they cannot take their dogs to any of the beaches in the city except the one in St. Lucie County.
Man’s best friend is banned from those long stretches of sand and cool waters because of public safety concerns and liabilities if a dog attacks other dogs or persons. This is when you will need the assistance of a Fort Pierce dog bite injury lawyer to hold the at-fault party accountable.
You would think that barring dogs from beaches would reduce dog bite claims in Florida, but the opposite is the case. According to a study, Floridians are more likely to submit an insurance claim for a dog attack injury than other states.
Additionally, according to Florida Health, children between one and nine years of age are at higher risk for dog bites, and those under 10 years of age are more likely to be bitten on the head.
At Shiner Law Group, we have Fort Pierce dog bite lawyers on staff who have experience representing clients attacked by dogs. We understand the pain you are going through and can help you get the maximum compensation you deserve. Hold negligent dog owners accountable with our help. If we don’t win, you don’t pay.
Our Fort Pierce dog bite attorneys will:
- Calculate the losses you have suffered (in medical bills, lost wages, physical/mental trauma)
- Ensure you get proper medical treatment for your injuries.
- Evaluate the scene of the attack.
- Determine liability in your favor.
Dog Bite Laws in Fort Pierce, Florida
Florida is a strict liability state. This means that dog owners can be held accountable for an attack civilly and criminally. In other words, an owner can be held liable for an attack whether they were aware of their pet’s aggressive nature or not. Dog bite victims don’t have to prove that the injuries resulted from the dog owner’s negligence.
As per Florida statutes, if a Fort Pierce dog bite lawyer can prove that the dog owner’s dog bit the victim and the latter was in a public space or on private property lawfully, they have a solid case. If the victim sustained injuries due to the attack, they could still face a personal injury charge.
Dog bite victims in Florida can recover compensation for their injuries under the following common law claims:
A Fort Pierce dog bite attorney can find an owner negligent if they failed to practice a level of care that a reasonable individual would have provided under the same circumstances.
Negligence per se
A dog owner can be held liable if they violate any of the regulations or statutes that are in place to protect public safety.
As per the one-bite rule, anyone aware of a dog’s attack history can be held liable for damages.
If the dog owner sets their dog on a person on purpose, the victim can charge them with battery.
If you or someone you know has been a dog attack victim, you should pursue damages. But first, learn about all of the legal options you have at your disposal from a competent and experienced Fort Pierce dog bite attorney.
Florida Dangerous Dog Statute
In Florida, the dangerous dog statute protects the public from aggressive dogs. Owners of dogs that are declared ‘dangerous’ as per Florida law have to take strict precautions as they can be held criminally liable for injuries caused by their pets.
The dog must also be registered with appropriate authorities and kept in a secure location marked with appropriate signs that warn others. Additionally, if the dog is taken for walks, the vet, or any reason off the premises, they must be on a leash, harness, or muzzled for public safety.
As per Florida dog bite laws, a dangerous dog is one that:
- Has killed or seriously injured another animal or a person more than once.
- Attempts to attack people and other animals without provocation.
- Has chased or aggressively approached a person or other animals without provocation.
- Has been trained and used in dog fights.
Among other characteristics.
Fort Pierce Dog Owner Responsibility Limitations
While Florida’s dog bite laws can hold owners liable for injuries their pet causes, some cases can reduce or eliminate that liability. Victims may not have a strong case if:
- They were trespassing on property where they were attacked.
- They provoked the animal into attacking.
- The dog was defending their owner against them or from a perceived threat.
Besides these limitations, the owner may not be held liable if they had posted warning signs and precautions on the premises warning people about their dog. However, even in this case, a victim can file a claim for damages. Even if they provoked the dog into attacking, the damages would be reduced by attributed fault.
Dog bite claims can be complex but not in the hands of an experienced Fort Pierce dog bite lawyer.
What To Do After a Dog Attack in Fort Pierce
To get the maximum compensation, here is a checklist you should use post dog attack:
- Medical treatment should be a priority after a dog attack. It is always safer to assume that such injuries are serious, whether you suffered minor scratches or lacerations.
- Locate the owner of the dog and get their contact information.
- Get in touch with animal control and call the police to file a report whether the dog owner is around or not.
- Do not admit fault or downplay your injuries. It may compromise your case and reduce the compensation you are rightly owed.
- Once everything is done, contact a reputable Fort Pierce dog bite attorney to protect your rights. Your lawyer will also work with the dog owner’s insurance company or file a lawsuit as per the circumstances surrounding the case.
Top Reasons Why You Should Hire a Fort Pierce Dog Bite Attorney
Here are just some reasons why you should hire a Fort Pierce dog bite attorney after suffering an attack:
They Can Demonstrate/Prove Owner Negligence
Even though dog owners in Florida are automatically responsible for injuries their pet causes, the law is founded on negligence. This means that the victim needs to prove that the owner knew their dog was a threat to others or should have known as per the dog’s past behavior. You also need to prove that the owner could have prevented the attack with the appropriate level of care.
Unlike an experienced lawyer, you may not have the resources or knowledge about dog bite cases to prove these points without accidentally incriminating yourself.
This includes procuring eyewitness testimonies that can provide insight into the series of events that led up to the attack and what happened during it. Your attorney may also be able to convince someone to testify to the dog’s past behavior to prove that the owner was aware of the dog’s aggressive nature.
Calculating Future and Past Damages
A dog bite claim is a personal injury claim which can compensate you for damages sustained. A lawyer can determine existing compensable damages and future ones. This is understandable as dog bites can often result in life-altering/threatening injuries such as:
- Permanent nerve damage.
- Severe contusions and lacerations.
- Damaged tendons and ligaments.
- Broken bones.
- Head, neck, and facial injuries.
- Puncture wounds.
- Eye injuries.
- Traumatic brain injury or back injury from falling over when the dog attacked.
A Fort Pierce dog bite attorney can also calculate the approximate value of the damages and whether you are in a position to negotiate a settlement with the dog owner or their insurance company.
They will also be able to help you gather evidence such as medical bills that prove the extent of the damages and consult with plastic surgeons about the nature of your injuries. They can use the information they gather to strengthen your case and ensure you get the maximum compensation possible.
Determining Psychological Harm
A dog attack is always aggressive and, thus, traumatizing for victims. Even if your physical injuries are minor, the emotional and mental turmoil you experience during an attack can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The condition can be particularly devastating in children, as this study shows.
Some of the common PTSD symptoms dog attack victims can experience post-attack include the following:
- Flashbacks of the attack.
- Nightmares about the attack.
- Mood swings.
- Avoidance of places or incidents that can remind them of the attack.
- Difficulty concentrating.
Since these symptoms are not visible, proving them can be challenging, but not for experienced Fort Pierce dog bite lawyers. With help from knowledgeable psychologists and research, they can prove that the attack left you psychologically scarred.
Calculating Lost Income and Earning Capacity
Depending on the severity of your injuries post-attack, you may have to miss a few days or even months of work as you heal. If your condition is quite severe, you may not be able to work at all. In both cases, you are entitled to compensation from the negligent owner.
Unlike a proficient lawyer, you may not be able to calculate the maximum amount you are due in lost income and lost earning capacity. They have access and connections with financial experts who can calculate the amount you are owed and other damages.
Frequently Asked Questions About Fort Pierce Dog Bites
Who pays out the settlement after a dog attack claim is made?
In most cases, dog owners are covered by homeowners’ or renter’s insurance, which in turn, covers the settlement amount.
Who is responsible for a dog bite?
The owner or the person in charge of the dog when it attacked the victim is usually held responsible. In either case, the settlement is paid out by the insurance company for both.
Will I have to go to court to settle a dog bite claim?
That may not be necessary. After the attack, you can contact a Fort Pierce dog bite attorney who can send the necessary paperwork to the insurance company and negotiate a settlement. Most cases are handled out of court this way. If, however, the insurance company tries to reduce or reject your claim, the matter can end up in court.
Will I have to pay a lawyer if we lose the case?
Most lawyers work on a contingency fee which means they only get paid if their clients get a fair settlement offer. If that is not the case, they usually recommend a court battle.
When should I file a dog bite claim?
In Florida, you have four years to file your claim, or you will not get the compensation you deserve. In some cases, a lawyer may be able to convince the court to extend your deadline.
Do dog bites result in complications?
Besides the apparent physical injuries such as cuts, abrasions, and lacerations, dog bites can also cause debilitating diseases such as capnocytophaga. The infection can spread quickly and can also result in sepsis which can prove fatal. In some cases, the infection can cause serious complications such as kidney failure, heart attack, and even gangrene.
What evidence should I collect to strengthen my case?
If you can, take pictures of the scene of the attack and your injuries. Plus, also get the contact information of witnesses who are willing to testify. You will also get a police report if you report the incident. Besides this, save all of your medical bills and ask your lawyer to use them to prove the severity of the attack.
Should I contact the insurance company of the dog owner?
Insurance company representatives have one job – to try and get claims reduced or rejected. As such, someone from the dog owner’s insurance company will contact you to get a recorded statement. They are trained to get answers that can make the victim look guilty. Your best bet is to avoid them and contact a lawyer.