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Help for You or Your Child after a Dog Bite Attack

A dog bite or attack can be an emotionally and physically scarring experience for a child or adult. Data from the Florida Department of Health shows more than 500 people each year in Florida require hospitalization after a dog bite. Children younger than 10 years old are most likely to sustain bites to the head and neck.

The Florida dog bite statute holds dog owners liable for attacks. You or your child may be entitled to compensation if someone else’s dog injured you in the West Palm Beach area. This includes money to address surgical costs, hospitalization and other injury-related expenses. Alternative litigation and out-of-court options may be available for those who wish to avoid contentious courtroom battles.

Understanding Florida’s dog bite laws may provide you with options as you and your family move forward after this painful incident. Below is an overview of the most important information you should know right now.

Dog Bite Lawyer

What is Florida’s dog bite law?

Florida’s dog bite law is covered in Chapter 767.04 of the Florida Statutes. This statute states: “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 the damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.”

This means the dog’s owner is financially responsible for any injuries you or your child sustained during an attack. This applies whether the bite occurred in a public park, on a sidewalk, or in a friend or neighbor’s home or yard.

What should I do immediately after a dog bite or attack?

There is great potential for infection or permanent scarring with a dog bite. Seek prompt medical attention and cooperate with doctors for any necessary follow-up care, such as antibiotic treatments and other infection control. This protects not only you or your child’s wellbeing, but also the integrity of a potential dog bite claim.

You should report the dog attack to the Palm Beach Public Safety Department’s Division of Animal Care and Control. You can reach them by calling (561) 233-1215. Request copies of the official police report and photograph all injuries. This information may be used as evidence in a negligence case.

Will the dog be euthanized immediately if I report the attack?

The Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control Ordinance outlines the course of action when a dog attack or bite occurs within the county. It does not call for the immediate euthanization of the dog involved in the attack. The dog instead will be placed under observation in quarantine as authorities conduct an investigation into the attack. The dog’s owner will be charged all applicable fees associated with this process.

I’m ready to seek justice. What should I do first?

Florida’s statute of limitations gives you four years in which to pursue damages for medical bills, lost income and pain and suffering. You may have the option to pursue compensation through negotiations with the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance company or another out-of-court process. You can learn more during a free case evaluation with one of our lawyers. Call our offices at (855) 529-0269.

A dog’s owner is financially responsible for any injuries you or your child sustained during an attack. This applies whether the bite occurred in a public park, on a sidewalk, or in a friend or neighbor’s home or yard.

There are instances when you may share liability with the dog’s owner. For example, you or your child may be partially (or completely) at fault for the bite if your own negligence played a role in the attack. Fault may be assigned to you if the defense can prove you provoked the dog or were attacked while engaged in illegal activity (such as trespassing or vandalism). Your potential damages will be reduced in direct correlation with the percentage of fault assigned to you for the bite.

One important caveat: The dog’s owner will not be considered liable for the attack if it occurred on his or her private property where a prominently displayed sign included the warning, “Bad Dog.” The owner, however, still will be held completely liable if the victim was less than six years old at the time of the attack. Additionally, the owner will be liable if the damages were caused by “a negligent act or omission” on his or her part, regardless of the victim’s age.

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