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Florida Dog Bite Accidents

March 4, 2014 Posted By Vanguard Attorneys

With respect to personal injury lawsuits, animal attacks and the matter of liability primarily involve dog bites or dog attacks. Other types of animal attacks may occur in the wild or on public land, but typically have no involvement with liability or personal injury law. Dog owners are responsible for their dogs’ behavior and can be held liable if their dog injures another person.

In Florida, the current dog bite statute places direct liability on dog owners for any bite resulting in injury to another human being. Section 767.07 of this statute includes the following language:

“The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.”

Legally speaking, dog attacks involve any dog bite or aggressive behavior exhibited by a dog resulting in physical injury to any adult or child. The vast majority of dog attacks involve small bites or minor nips and are non-vicious. In these cases, a dog is at play and does not intend to cause any harm by nipping or mouthing. However, intentional bites may occur if a dog feels threatened or becomes provoked and agitated. Animal behavior studies have shown that keeping a dog chained up or confined for long periods of time produces stress and anxiety and can lead to a much higher probability of agitation – which results in biting and other aggressive behavior.

The majority of dog bites and attacks involve a child and a neighborhood dog. A child may play too roughly or surprise the dog and get bitten as a result. Most cases are not severe, but some larger breeds can cause considerable flesh damage with even one reactive bite or nip.

Dog Bite Statistics

  • 25% of fatal dog attacks involved chained dogs
  • 4,700,000 dog bites are reported in the US each year, nearly 60% of occurrences involve young children
  • 50% of dog attacks involved children ages 11 and below
  • 65% of bites among children occur to the head and neck
  • 70% of all dog-bite fatalities occurred among children ages 10 and under
  • 70% of dog bite incidents occur on the dog owner’s property or in the home, where most victims knew the dog
  • 82% of dog bites treated via emergency room visits involve children ages 14 and below
  • 92% of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs, of which 94 percent were not neutered
  • Bite rates are dramatically higher among children ages 5 to 9 years old
  • Boys ages 14 and under are bitten more frequently than girls of the same age group
  • Dog bite claims cost the insurance industry over $1 billion in payouts each year
  • In Florida, approximately 500 dog bites require hospitalization every year
  • Only 0.0002% of all dog bites/attacks are fatal
  • Unsupervised newborns were 370 times more likely than an adult to be killed by a dog

Safety Tips to Help Children Avoid Dog Bites

The US Center for Disease Control and Injury Prevention recommends that parents teach children basic safety habits for encountering dogs. Safety tips should be reviewed and reinforced on a regular basis:

  • Never approach an unfamiliar or strange/stray dog
  • Remain motionless if approached by an unfamiliar dog and look away from the dog
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into the fetal position and lie still
  • Do not play with a dog unless accompanied by a supervising adult
  • Be calm – always talk in a quiet voice or whisper and do not shout
  • Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first
  • If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult

References:

CDC

American Humane Society

Categories: Dog Bite, Personal Injury
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