Were You Injured In An Animal Attack In Stuart?
Animal attacks and dog bites can lead to severe injuries and in some cases, death. If a pet, be it a dog or any other animal, bites or attacks someone, their owner is responsible and liable for damages. If you or your loved one has been bitten or attacked by a dog, then hire an experienced Stuart animal bite lawyer for legal representation. A lawyer can pursue your case and help you navigate through all the legal complexities, thereby ensuring that you get a full and fair compensation for the injuries and damages you incurred.
- Nearly 1,000 Americans are brought to the ER every day for injuries inflicted by dogs?
- You have 1 in 50 chance of getting bitten by a dog in your lifetime if you happen to reside in the US?
- More than 50 percent of dog bite victims are adults while 42 percent are children under 11?
Law on Dog Bites in Stuart
By law, the victim of dog bites has the right to file a claim. Florida is a state that has a ‘strict liability’ for dog bites. This means that the owner of the dog shall be held liable if their dog happens to bite someone, regardless of whether they were aware or had no knowledge that their dog might bite.
According to the strict liability dog bite statute, the defendant/ dog owner is responsible for damages if their dog bit the victim and:
- The victim was lawfully in place, which means that he/she was legally allowed to be where he/she was when the incident occurred. In other words, they were not trespassing any unlawful territory.
- The victim did not provoke the animal.
Common Injuries That Result from Dog Bites in Stuart
Dog bites are serious. They can be extremely dangerous and can cause serious infections, including rabies. Injuries in dog bite cases can potentially be both long-term and catastrophic. These may include:
- Crushed and broken bones
- Lacerations and tissue loss
- Permanent scarring
- Abrasions and puncture wounds
- Bite marks
Furthermore, these injuries can also scar victims, mentally and emotionally for life.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim After An Animal Attack in Stuart
Once you’ve been bitten by a dog, you must file a personal injury claim against the owner of the dog as quickly as possible. Remember that the Florida statute of limitations is a hard and fast deadline. And in such a situation, if a case is not filed within four years time starting from the time the dog bit you, then you shall be forever barred from filing a claim against the dog owner. This means that you will lose your right of recovering any form or amount of financial compensation from the defendant for good.
It is, therefore, advised to seek quick legal representation from an experienced and knowledgeable Stuart dog bite lawyer who is aware of all the dog bite laws in Florida and can provide you with both quality assistance and guidance on filing a Stuart personal injury claim.
Determining Liability in a Dog Bite Claim
There are many things that must be kept in consideration when filing a claim such as how to determine liability against the defendant/ dog owner. As mentioned above, dog owners can be held responsible if their dogs bite an individual in public or on their private properties if the victim was lawfully there even if the owner was not knowledgeable about the dog’s viciousness.
Apart from this, the victim can also establish a liability against the dog owner under Florida’s Dangerous Dog Act. This act states that if the dog owner had prior knowledge about their pet’s dangerous propensities and if their dog had previously demonstrated reckless behavior then the owner shall be charged with a second degree criminal misdemeanor in the event the dog bites someone.
However, if the dog has been declared as a bad or dangerous dog by the authority of animal control and it attacks the victim without provocation then the owner of the dog will be charged with a first degree misdemeanor offense, and third-degree felony charge in case if the attack led to serious injuries or wrongful death. It is extremely crucial to work with a Stuart personal injury lawyer to determine liability against the defendant and make sure that you get compensated fairly.
Types of Damages in a Stuart Dog Bite Claim
Under Florida State Statute 767.01, dog owners are responsible for any injuries caused by their pets to anyone, be it an individual or another animal. Damage to person includes medical expenses, including extensive and corrective surgeries which may be required in cases that involve permanent injuries and scarring.
The victim also has the right to recover financial compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Hospitalization and emergency room costs
- Lifestyle changes
- Lost wages due to missed days at work
- Reduced earning capacity
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
Hiring the Right Stuart Animal Bite Lawyer
As Florida dog bite laws are quite complex, determining the level of liability against the dog owner can be difficult unless you have an experienced and knowledgeable Stuart dog bite lawyer by your side. This is where we come into the picture.
At Shiner Law Group, our Stuart injury lawyers can provide you with thorough legal assistance pertaining to dog bite cases and ensure that you get fully compensated for injuries, damages and suffering caused to you by someone else’s dog.
Stuart Dog Bite FAQs
Whether you’re out for a picnic at Shepard Park or visiting a friend’s house in a Stuart neighborhood, dog bites can happen. Dog bite injuries range from small punctures and scratches to more serious, deep, or infection-causing bites. Florida has strict liability dog bite laws, which means that the dog owner is responsible for his or her dog, whether or not that person knows if the dog is a biter. There are two exceptions to liability. The dog owner might not face liability if you are trespassing, or if you are teasing or otherwise tormenting the dog.
If you were bitten by a dog, contact the experienced dog bite attorneys at Shiner Law Group to discuss your claim. In the meantime, read below for answers to some frequently asked questions about Stuart dog bite cases.
Does Stuart have a leash law?
Yes. Florida, as well as Martin County, have leash laws. This means that all dogs must be on a leash while outside of the dog owner’s property. The law makes exceptions for service animals.
Are certain breeds outlawed in Stuart?
While no breed of dog is illegal by state law, certain counties and/or cities could ban certain breeds. Martin County also does not ban any specific breeds of dogs. However, the law does place restrictions on dangerous dogs, such as those with a history of biting.
What do I do after suffering a dog bite in Stuart?
If a dog bit you, take note of the dog’s description. If possible, take a picture of the dog. Depending on the severity of the bite, call 911 or clean the wound, then seek medical attention. You should also file a police report and notify the dog owner of the bite. If feasible, file the report before seeking medical attention. After you receive medical attention for the bite, contact a Stuart dog bite attorney for a free case evaluation.
If you have underlying conditions that affect your immune system, you should seek medical attention immediately. Any animal bite, including a dog bite, could become severely infected. Flush the wound with clean water while you are waiting for first responders, as this may reduce the risk of infection.
What happens to the dog after I report a dog bite or dog attack in Stuart?
Officers could ask a dog owner to quarantine their dog even if it has been vaccinated against rabies. Martin County allows vaccinated dogs to quarantine at home in most cases.
If a dog is not up to date on its vaccines, the dog is to be taken to a properly credentialed impoundment facility, unless one is not available within a reasonable distance, in which case the dog may quarantine at the owner’s home. If the officers cannot catch the dog, they can humanely put it down.
What insurance covers dog bites in Stuart?
Your own health insurance might cover medical expenses for a dog bite. The dog owner’s property insurance could also cover medical expenses and other damages you suffered because of a dog bite on their property. However, if the property owner did not notify their insurer of a dog on the property, the property owner’s insurance might not compensate you for damages. If no insurance coverage is available, you may attempt to settle with the dog owner.
Do I have a claim if my neighbor’s dog bit me while I was on my property?
Because Florida has a leash law, you do have a legal claim if your neighbor’s dog bit you while on your property. However, if you were teasing or tormenting the dog, you might lose your right to recover damages.
What if a stray dog bites me?
In most cases, you won’t have a dog bite claim if a stray dog in Stuart bites you, since the dog has no owner to hold accountable. However, if the accident occurred on someone’s property, and the accident arguably occurred due to the owner’s negligence, you could have a premises liability claim.
Do I have a legal claim if I am working at someone’s house in Stuart and that person’s dog bites me?
Whether you have a legal claim if you were performing work for someone at their house may depend on the circumstances of your legal work arrangement with them. But, again, because of Florida’s leash law, dog owners are generally liable any time their dog attacks anyone.
I took a shortcut across my neighbor’s property in Stuart, without permission, and got bitten. Can I recover damages?
Generally, no. If you were not invited onto the property, by law, you were trespassing. Florida statutes do not allow trespassers to recover damages for dog bites. However, if you can show that your neighbor knew you used his or her property as a shortcut and the neighbor did not tell you to stop or post the property, you might have a chance of recovering damages. In any case, you should consult with an attorney, who can evaluate the unique circumstances of your case to determine whether you have a chance of recovering damages.
My neighbor’s dogs damaged my personal property. Do I have a claim?
Yes. Your neighbor will have to pay damages for the destruction his or her dog caused.
What is a “dangerous dog” in Stuart?
Florida defines a dangerous dog as a dog that has: inflicted severe injury to a person by biting or attacking; severely injured or killed another domestic animal while it was not on its owner’s property; or that has, without provocation, chased or approached a person on the street or sidewalk in a menacing fashion.
What if a police dog bites me in Stuart?
Police dogs, often referred to as K-9s, can be especially dangerous, due to their training. The police cannot use a K-9 to inflict excessive force, and if they do, you may recover compensation. However, if you are running from the officer, you hit the dog, or fail to surrender as directed by a police officer, you cannot recover damages because of a bite by a police dog in the course of its job.
Why should I retain a dog bite lawyer in my Stuart dog bite case?
After a Stuart dog bite, the first place you are likely to turn to for compensation is insurance resources. Negotiating with an insurance company after any accident is generally quite stressful, especially when it shows reluctance to pay a reasonable amount. When you are trying to recover from a dog attack, you do not need the added stress of arguing with someone to get the compensation you deserve.
Instead, a dog bite lawyer can handle this for you. An experienced Stuart dog bite lawyer can identify all potential insurance resources and start negotiations with the appropriate parties. If the insurance company refuses to provide any coverage or to pay a reasonable amount and you need to litigate to recover compensation, an experienced dog bite attorney is ready with the know-how and resources to start the litigation process.
What do I tell the insurance company after a Stuart dog bite accident?
Insurance companies do not like to pay out claims, including for dog bites. While many people call an insurance company to get a claim started, it is better to let your Stuart dog bite attorney contact the insurance company on your behalf.
Many insurance companies have regulations around what kinds of bites they will cover, including coverage exclusions for certain breed types or sizes. Some insurance companies will not cover dog bites at all.
If an insurance company does cover the dog bite, it will be strict with enforcing its policy’s terms and minimizing its liability. If you go it alone, you might say something the insurance company will use to minimize or deny your claim. They also often feel empowered to offer self-represented individuals low settlements that will not cover all medical expenses from the accident.
Thus, if you suffered a dog bite injury in Stuart, especially an injury that you suspect will last for the long term or will be permanent, it’s in your best interest to contact a Stuart dog bite attorney to handle communication and negotiation with the insurance company. If you do make initial contact with an insurance company, only give your name, the date and location of the accident, and your attorney’s contact information.
What are the types of injuries I could suffer from a dog bite?
You could suffer severe injuries from a dog bite, including:
- Lacerations, scrapes, and tears in your skin, muscles, or tendons
- Broken and crushed bones
- Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries if the dog knocks you over and you hit your head
- Face and eye injuries
- Puncture wounds
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Head and neck injuries
- Nerve damage
- Emotional trauma
- Infections, including secondary infections that set in after surgery to repair damage from a dog bite
What damages can I recover after a Stuart dog bite?
You can recover economic and non-economic damages after a Stuart dog bite. Economic damages have an assigned monetary value while non-economic damages do not.
Economic damages. Sometimes referred to as special damages, economic damages in a Stuart dog bite case may include:
- Past medical expenses for those incurred because of a dog bite incident and before a settlement or court award.
- Future medical expenses for those you expect to incur because of the dog bite after a settlement or court award. Medical expenses may include surgeries, doctors’ appointments, follow-up appointments, additional surgeries, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and cognitive therapy.
- Replacement of destroyed or damaged personal property.
- Past lost wages for wages you lost from the time of the dog bite incident until you return to work, or up through the time of a settlement or a court award if you cannot return to work by then.
- Future lost wages for those you expect to lose due to long-term or permanent disabilities that prevent you from working. Future lost wages could also include partial future lost wages if you can work, but your injuries and/or disabilities prevent you from working for the salary or hourly wage you had before the incident.
- Funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses if you lose a loved one because of a dog attack.
Non-economic damages. Sometimes referred to as general damages, non-economic damages may include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress. A victim might suffer physical and emotional pain and suffering. Often, especially with children, a dog bite or a dog attack could cause the victim to have anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other emotional trauma.
- Wrongful death. While anyone could die because of a dog attack, younger children and the elderly are more at risk of dying. In a severe dog attack, the dog could shake or toss the person, and some might not survive the trauma. Additionally, even someone who survives an initial attack could have an infection set in which then causes death.
- Loss of quality of life. In some cases, a dog bite or dog attack could cause injuries that lead to long-term or permanent disabilities. These disabilities might require a person to take medication for the rest of their life or use ambulatory aids.
- Loss of companionship. If the dog bite victim’s injuries and/or disabilities prevent them from taking part in or enjoying family activities and events.
- Loss of consortium. If a dog attack causes health issues that prevent the victim from enjoying a physical relationship with their spouse.
- Loss of use of a body part or bodily function. If the victim loses a digit or a limb or loses her eyesight, bladder control, or bowel control.
- Excessive scarring and/or disfigurement. Dog bites and dog attacks could cause excessive scarring or even disfigurement, especially if the dog is a larger dog and the person is smaller.
Contact a Dog Bite Lawyer at Shiner Law Group
Even what seems like a simple dog bite case could become complex when you try to recover the compensation you deserve. When you add long-lasting and permanent injuries, such as physical and emotional scarring, it is often a nightmare dealing with insurance companies and dog owners to get the compensation you deserve.
Instead of taking it all on your own, you should concentrate on recovering while an experienced dog bite attorney at Shiner Law Group fights to get you the maximum compensation you can recover. Dog bites and other injuries from dog attacks can have a lasting impression on anyone, especially young children. Contact a lawyer at Shiner Law Group by calling (772) 777-7700 to discuss your Stuart dog bite case.