Dogs have long been one of the most popular pets to own in the United States. Undoubtedly, “man’s best friend” can be a loyal companion and can even function as a low-tech home security system. Due to their popularity, it is difficult to go a day in an urban area like Tampa without seeing several dogs being walked or enjoying a day on the beach with their owner. Unfortunately, dogs are also capable of causing serious injury when they bite people. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that approximately 4.5 million people are bitten each year in the United States. Fortunately, in many cases, individuals who are bitten by dogs are legally entitled to compensation under Florida law.
Dog Bites can Cause Serious Injuries
When dogs attack, the consequences for victims can be devastating. Dogs have extremely powerful jaws that can easily tear skin, muscle, and can even break a person’s bones. In addition, contrary to popular myth, dogs ‘ mouths are not cleaner than humans – in fact, they harbor millions of potentially harmful bacteria that can potentially cause a serious infection that significant consequences. Some of the more common kinds of injuries often caused by dog bites include the following:
· Muscle tears
· Tissue loss
· Crush injuries
· Sprains or strains
· Permanent scars
What Kinds of Damages are Available in a Dog Bite Case?
Many people who are bitten by dogs sustain significant damages as a result of the attack. Fortunately for victims, Florida law legally holds dog owners strictly liable for the injuries caused by anyone their dog bites, meaning that it is irrelevant whether the owner knew or should have known that the dog had the potential to bite. Some of the kinds of damages that are often available in a Florida dog bite case include the following:
- Medical expenses – Dog bite victims often sustain significant medical expenses as a result of their injuries, often rising well into the thousands of dollars.
- Lost income – Many people who are bitten by dogs are unable to work for weeks or even months, resulting in the loss of a significant amount of income
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering – Dog bites can be extremely painful and leave victims with significant emotional trauma. Fortunately for victims, Florida law recognizes these kinds of noneconomic damages and compensable losses.
- Punitive damages – In some particularly egregious cases, dog owners may be liable for punitive damages that are intended to publish reckless conduct.
The Importance of Retaining an Attorney
Many people who are bitten by dogs are uncertain as to whether they should retain an attorney. In almost all cases, it is highly advisable for anyone that has been injured by a dog bite to retain legal counsel as soon as they can after an incident occurs. In many cases, victims who retain a lawyer are able to retain significantly more compensation than those who represent themselves. Additionally, the vast majority of attorneys who represent dog bite victims do so on a contingent fee basis, meaning that victims will not pay anything in legal fees unless their lawyer successfully recovers on their behalf.