Statistics published by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimate that 70-80 million dogs are owned in the United States. Unfortunately, with the large number of dogs owned comes a large number of dog bite injuries. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality published a study that found approximately 4.5 million people in America are bitten by dogs each year.
Florida is a strict liability state, which means a Florida dog owner may still be liable for injuries caused by their dogs, even if they have no reason to know their dog is dangerous. Florida Statute § 767.04 specifically states that a dog owner will be liable if their dog bites another person who is in a public place or is lawfully in a private place. However, this does not mean dog owners will automatically be liable for all bites. There are several steps you should take when you are bitten by a dog to maximize your chances of recovery:
- Go to the doctor immediately.
Dog bites can seem like relatively minor injuries but it is important to seek medical attention for them so a professional can assess their severity and prevent future infection. These medical records can be used in your case later to support the severity of your claim and your potential limitations for future employment if any. Another important reason to seek immediate treatment relates to the fact that your injury may worsen if left untreated. If a court finds you took unreasonable actions after the incident and caused your injury to worsen, it may reduce the damages you would otherwise be entitled to receive.
- Take photos of anything relevant to your claim.
In the case of dog bites, a picture is truly worth a thousand words. To the extent you can, you should take a photo right after the dog bites you to show the severity of the injury when incurred. You should also try to get a photo of the dog that bit you if possible.
- Write down a summary of the incident.
You should write down any details you can remember while the incident is still fresh in your mind. You should make sure you note the dog’s breed, size, and demeanor, as well as the dog’s owner if known. You should also note where the incident took place, what you were wearing, the weather conditions on that day, and any other factors that may have instigated the attack.
- Get testimony from any witnesses of the incident.
Typically there will be a few people who witness a dog bite. If you are able to locate and talk to them, their accounts may help corroborate your story and enhance your credibility with the court.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you are suffering from a dog bite injury, you will want to hire an experienced dog bite accident lawyer to help walk you through the steps to building a successful lawsuit. The Florida personal injury lawyers at Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith, PLLC can go through key strategies and walk you through the litigation process. Contact us for your free initial consultation.