Florida Dog Bites and Personal Injury Lawsuits
July 30, 2013 Posted By Vanguard Attorneys
Each year, approximately 4.7 million dog bite injuries are reported in the U.S. Half of these incidents involve children who have been bitten, and the vast majority of cases involve a familiar or household dog. In Florida alone, nearly 500 dog bite cases require hospitalization each year.
4 Interesting Dog Bite Statistics Reported in the State of Florida:
- Dog bite injury rates rank highest in children ages 1 to 9
- Boys are bitten more often than girls of the same age group
- A larger proportion of bites to the head and neck area are suffered by children under age 10
- Sexually intact male dogs are associated with nearly 75% of all reported dog bite incidents
Dog Bites at Home and the Family Dog
Dog bite incidents are reported to occur most frequently in the victim and/or dog’s home. The majority of cases involve a family dog. Small children at play may inadvertently injure or provoke a dog, resulting in a bite. Parents must know the risks of keeping a dog with small children, and must sometimes decide whether a bite incident warrants separating the child and dog either temporarily or permanently. Bites in the home are often treated as a family affair, and are unlikely to appear in the legal circuit. Noting the statistic listed above, that nearly 75% of dog bites are associated with intact males, families with children (or expecting) should consider neutering their pet as a preventative measure.
Dog Bite Injury Claims and Florida State Law
Dog bites occurring with anyone not living in the dog owner’s home, on the other hand, can turn ugly very quickly. 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.”
When a dog bite victim files a lawsuit, this statute is the first one to hit the table. The location of the incident is of little importance, as the dog’s owner bears the burden of responsibility for the dog’s actions at all times. Florida’s dog bite law has also been referred to as the “one-bite” law, meaning that even a dog with zero history of aggressiveness can cause its owner tremendous financial hardship with a single incident.
If a child is bitten by a neighborhood dog, that child’s parents can file a personal injury lawsuit against the dog’s owner; The same applies to adults bitten on the owner’s property or in any public areas. The important thing to note is: Unless the owner can prove a case of deliberate provocation or trespassing on his/her property, he/she is likely to be held liable for the injuries resulting from the bite.
Much like any other accident case and personal injury claim, a dog owner can be found financially responsible for paying a bite victims medical bills, lost wages, and even pain-and-suffering compensations. All dog owners should take special care to supervise their pets at all times, and make an active effort to socialize and temper their dog. As with any class of accident that carries the potential for legal resolution, small preventive measures taken early on, including neutering and obedience training, can go a long way in reducing these costly and emotional lawsuits.