Dog Bite Attorneys in St. Petersburg
Serving You and The State of Florida
Dog bites are an unfortunate and frightening event that happens all too frequently. Whether you are visiting someone else’s property, or out on a walk, they can occur without provocation at any time. Fortunately, most injuries are relatively minor, but occasionally the injuries resulting from a bite can be severe. These attacks can leave lasting injuries, permanent scarring, and result in pain and suffering for the victim.
What to do if you experience a serious dog bite?
Knowing what to do following a dog bite, and what options you have for recovery, is essential. The attorneys at the Lopez Law Group know that it can be traumatizing to experience a dog bite or attack, and we are prepared to walk you through the process of getting the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Collect the name and contact information of the owner if you can. If it is not immediately apparent who owns the dog, make a note of the address where the bite took place, and snap a photo of the dog if you can do so safely. Seek medical attention immediately after a bite, and give the owner’s contact information to your medical provider so that they can file a report about the bite. Be sure to keep a copy of all medical bills as this will be very important in accessing your damages.
Who is responsible for my injuries after a Florida dog bite?
Florida is a “strict liability” state, meaning an owner can be liable for a dog bite, even if they were not previously aware of the aggressive nature of the dog. Florida also does not require the victim to prove that their injuries are a direct result of negligence on the owner’s part. If the dog bit you while you were in a public space, or you were on private property lawfully, the owner can be held liable.
If you were bitten under circumstances other than the two listed above, you may still bring a personal injury claim against the owner. However, you will have to prove that the owner acted negligently by failing to use reasonable care and that the owner’s negligence resulted in the injury.
How to recover damages caused by a dog bite
In most instances, those who are injured by a dog bite will be limited in their means of recovery. Most people are not aware that most homeowners’ policies include a provision that explicitly excludes dog bites from the insurance policy. If the homeowner’s policy will not cover the bite, the person injured by the bite has no other alternative than to consult with an attorney about the feasibility of a lawsuit.
As expert Florida Dog Bite attorneys, the Lopez Law Group will secure a copy of the homeowner’s insurance policy in place at the time the bite occurred. We will review the policy to see if there is an exclusion. If the exclusion exists, the next step is to run an asset check on the dog’s owner. If the asset check proves that the person has recoverable assets, our team of experienced dog bite lawyers will begin to pursue a case to obtain the assets necessary to compensate the client for the injuries they sustained.
Florida law does not limit recovery to physical injuries. Dog bites can cause substantial damage to a person’s body, but it can also carry a heavy emotional toll. Traumatic experiences such as a dog bite can leave a person forever fearful of animals, and they often live with the fear of being bitten again. Though emotional trauma can happen to anyone, children are especially vulnerable to the lasting psychological damage of a dog bite.
How common are dog bite injuries in Florida?
Claims submitted to insurance companies for dog bite injuries show that Florida is near the top of the list. A study performed by the Insurance Information Institute found that Florida had the second-highest rate of claims in the country (Spot Light On: Dog Bite Liability , 2020). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States.
When it comes to paying these claims, the average amount in Florida was $43,893 in 2018, which is higher than the national average of $39,017 . The Lopez Law Group will evaluate the presence of insurance, the extent of the physical and emotional damages, and all other relevant circumstances when determining how we will advise our clients about proceeding with a claim.
What is a dangerous dog?
Florida law finds that if a dog has been aggressive in the past and has bitten someone before, caused injury to another animal in the past or has chased or otherwise displayed aggressive behavior, then they can be declared dangerous.
In Florida, if a dog is determined to be dangerous under Florida law, the owner of that dog is required to take certain precautions. Typically, the dog will have to be registered with authorities, and the dog must be kept in a secure area. The owner must place “dangerous dog” signs around the property, and if the dog is taken off the property, they must do so with the dog collared and leashed.
Though there are some breeds that are labeled more dangerous than others, any dog can bite and cause significant injuries. A dog does not have to belong to a “dangerous” breed to be labeled a dangerous dog. Florida law applies that label based solely on the animals past behavior instead of a specific breed.
A dog owner might escape liability for an attack if the dog was defending the owner from a perceived threat, if someone was harassing the dog, or if the person who was attacked was trespassing on private property at the time of the attack.
What if my dog bites someone?
If your dog bites someone, you need a copy of your homeowner’s insurance policy and a consultation with an attorney. There are defenses available if your dog was provoked, harassed, or the person who was bitten had sufficient warning about the dog. However, to protect yourself and your dog, you want to contact an attorney with experience in Florida dog bite law.
Contact us today
The attorneys at The Lopez Law Group stand ready to assist you if a dog has bitten you. With years of experience, we understand the most effective way to get you the recovery you deserve. We will exhaust all legal remedies to obtain fair compensation for your expenses, lost wages, psychological trauma, and pain and suffering.
If necessary, our attorneys at The Lopez Law Group will go beyond an insurance policy. That means we will run an asset check to see if the dog’s owner should be held liable as an individual. If you have damages that go beyond the limits of the homeowner’s insurance policy, our skilled Florida Dog Bite attorneys can help you receive the compensation you deserve for the injuries suffered.
If you have a dog that has been deemed dangerous and you are being contacted by an attorney or insurance company, give us a call, and we will be happy to explain the legal process and what you should expect. Our consultations are always free, and you don’t owe us money unless we are able to obtain a settlement on your behalf. Give us a call today at 1-727-933-0015.
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What Our Clients Say
Mr. Lopez was a Godsend and really helped me with my situation. Him and the entire firm were very diligent and helped speed the early stages of the process along due to a pressing situation. Throughout my experience working with the firm, they were always responsive and available any time I had a question or wanted to check on the state of affairs. Hopefully I won’t have to recommend Lopez Law Group to my friends or family, but if those unfortunate circumstances arise then there’s only one name I would trust. Thank you again for all your help!