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Dog Bite

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What to Do If You’ve Been Bitten by a Dog

By | Dog Bite | No Comments

In the United States there are approximately 4.5 million reported incidents of dog bites each year. With 70 million dogs living in the US, the percentage of dogs that bite would seem to be about 6.4 percent. With many dog bites going unreported, however, those numbers may not accurately reflect the number of incidents that occur each year. If you or someone you know is ever bitten or attacked by a dog, what you do immediately after the attack is very important, both for your personal well-being and for your legal protection should you need to file a claim.

Immediate Action

Get Medical Attention Right Away

If you’ve been bitten by a dog – no matter how minor the injury – it is imperative that you seek medical attention right away. Because canine teeth are rounded, in some instances where the teeth don’t break the skin, there can still be significant nerve damage or broken blood vessels. If the skin is broken – even slightly – the risk of infection is very high. In addition to infection, dogs have a slight amount of venom in their claws and teeth, which can have varying impacts on the human immune system. It is always best to seek medical attention immediately, no matter how minor the injuries seem.

Acquire Contact Information

Treat a dog bite like you would any other incident. Be sure to take photos of any injuries sustained and exchange contact information with the parties involved, whether it was your dog or someone else’s dog that was responsible for the attack. Be sure to also document information of any witnesses nearby. Information such as name, address and contact info will be crucial. Verification of the animal’s immunization is required at the very least, and should a legal claim ultimately be filed, these records become that much more important.

After the Incident

File a Report

Be sure to contact animal control and file a report as soon as possible. By filing a report, you will be helping limit future attacks like the one you experienced. In most cases, animal control will initiate an investigation into the incident, which can have an impact on any future litigation.

Document Everything

In addition to the photographs of injuries and medical receipts, keep track of any correspondence you have with the parties involved in the incident, such as witnesses, doctors, or attorneys. If you’ve been injured, document the pain, loss of mobility, swelling and the overall impact of the injuries you’ve sustained.

At some point after the incident, take time to write down the circumstances that led to the event. Be specific, noting:

  • time of day,
  • location,
  • what you were doing,
  • where you were going, etc.

Try and recall all the details you can. This should be done as soon as possible, as not to forget important details.

Contacting an Attorney

If injuries are sufficient or you feel action needs to be taken, contact an attorney right away. An attorney will help you assess the damage that you’ve incurred to help you navigate the process. Hiring an attorney that you trust ensures that you and the other party can come to a fair agreement and put an unfortunate situation behind you.

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Dog Bites: Who Will Pay for the Damages?

By | Dog Bite, Personal Injury | No Comments

In many situations, individuals injured by dog bites do not bring legal actions against owners because they fear that the owners will suffer financial hardship as a result. In other cases, persons who have been bitten do not file legal claims out of fear that they will ruin their relationship with the dog owner. However, there is no need for a dog bite victim to worry about such situations.

In most cases, owners do not have to pay for the damages caused by a dog bite. Instead, the owner’s insurance covers the costs of a legal claim and any resulting judgment or settlement. Depending on a wide range of circumstances, a claim resulting from a dog bite injury may be paid by the following:

Homeowner’s Insurance

Majority of the time, a dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance will cover the cost of damages that arise due to dog bites that occur on the homeowner’s property. While homeowner’s policies generally range between $100,000 to $300,000, most insurance companies will only cover the costs of the first incident of animal-caused injuries. In fact, most of these policies include verbiage, which excludes subsequent claims related to dog bite injuries.

Animal Insurance

Because many insurance companies only cover the costs of dog bite injury expenses for the first incident, pet owners that are considered repeat offenders are forced to obtain insurance coverage from a company that specializes in animal insurance. If you suffer injury due to a dog bite and that dog owner is considered a repeat offender, they may have animal insurance to cover the costs of your injuries.

Vehicle Insurance

If a dog bite occurs in the dog owner’s vehicle, the homeowner’s insurance policy may not cover damages. In these types of cases, the vehicle owner’s car insurance policy may cover the cost of the animal a bite. Sometimes, a combination of the homeowner’s insurance and the vehicle insurance will cover the damages.

Have You Sustained a Dog Bite Injury? Call Vanguard Attorneys

If you were bitten by a dog and believe the owner should be held liable for your injuries, we encourage you to get in touch with our Tampa dog bite lawyers at Vanguard Attorneys. When you choose to entrust us with your case, we will explore every detail in order to protect your rights and future. In every case, we take a client-based focus and handle all the complicated legal matters, so you can focus on the road to recovery.

To speak with a member of our team, call a Tampa dog bite attorney from Vanguard Attorneys today!

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Preventing Dog Bite Injuries – What you should know about dog behavior

By | Dog Bite | No Comments

Each year, approximately 4.7 million dog bite injuries are reported across the country. Nearly 50% of dog bite incidents involve children who are bitten by a familiar or household dog. Within the the state of Florida, nearly 500 dog bite cases require hospitalization every year.

Many people simply do not understand dog behavior. A majority of dog bites occur because people are uneducated on dog safety or children are not properly supervised around dogs. In other cases, dogs are abused or mistreated and become uncharacteristically aggravated or territorial. Abuse and mistreated dogs can become easily agitated in otherwise normal circumstances and some larger breeds can cause severe injury if they bite or attack.

Understanding a dog’s behavior and teaching children the proper and safe way to behave around dogs can help reduce the likelihood of a dog bite or dog attack.

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. In these common cases, parents must know the risks of keeping a dog with small children and must decide whether a bite incident warrants separating the child and dog either temporarily or permanently.

Since nearly 75% of dog bites are associated with intact males, a strong preventive measure for all male dogs is to ensure their dog is neutered. Neutering greatly improves a male dog’s temperament and also prevents any unintentional breeding – a growing problem contributing to the number of stray and feral dogs in the US.

Dog Behavior-Based Safety Tips

  • Dogs must be introduced to children. If a dog is present in the home before a child is born, introduce a dog to a baby gradually.
  • Always supervise babies and toddlers with a dog.
  • Dogs may guard toys or food by instinct, which can lead to inadvertent bites.
  • All dogs should be spayed or neutered as soon as they are old enough. These procedures help to keep dogs from going into “heat”, an instinctive mating state where aggression can lead to dog bites.

Safety Tips for Children and Dogs

Once a child is old enough to learn simple rules and instructions, begin teaching and reinforcing a few simple (but potentially life-saving) rules for dogs in the home and for encounters with dogs outside the home

  • Never approach an unfamiliar dog on the street. Never approach another dog in another person’s backyard without an adult present.
  • Remain motionless if approached by an unfamiliar or stray dog and look away from the dog.
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a fetal position and lie still until an adult comes over to help.
  • Never play with a dog unless accompanied by a supervising adult.
  • Be calm – always talk in a quiet voice or whisper and do not shout. Dogs feed off of children’s high energy and can become over-excited and may nip playfully.
  • Children should be separated from a familiar dog and take a “time out” if they feel angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed by the dog in any way.
  • Never pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first. It is okay to open your palm and let a familiar dog walk up and sniff it before petting the dog. Pet a dog gently and be calm around the dog.
  • Remember, dogs respond to energy – they will remain calm and submissive around calm and generally quiet children.
  • If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.

References:

Dog Bites – Florida Department of Health Report

Dog Bite Law (Florida)

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Florida Dog Bite Accidents

By | Dog Bite, Personal Injury | No Comments

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

Florida Dog Bites and Personal Injury Lawsuits

By | Dog Bite | No Comments

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.