Although most dogs are well-trained and well-behaved, many are unpredictable. Even beloved pets can attack without warning, leaving victims with catastrophic or even fatal injuries. Tragically, the vast majority of dog bite victims are children.
If you, your child, or your loved one was attacked by a dog, turn to the team at Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A. Since 1994, our Florida dog bite attorneys have fought for the rights of injured victims and the families of those wrongfully killed, securing more than $300 million in settlements and verdicts. We understand just how devastating these cases are, which is why we provide compassionate, personalized legal support and aggressive advocacy in and out of the courtroom. Our team recognizes that no two cases are exactly alike. Because of this, we develop custom legal strategies aimed at securing the best possible outcome for each individual client.
Are Dog Owners Always Responsible for Dog Bites in Florida?
Florida follows a “strict liability” rule when it comes to dog bites. This means that dog owners are generally always liable when their pets bite another person, regardless of whether the owner acted negligently or had any reason to believe the dog might attack.
You may have a case against a dog owner if:
- You were bitten by their dog
- You were bitten while on public property or lawfully on private property
Dog owners may argue that a victim was trespassing when they were bitten, or that the victim somehow provoked the dog. Our Florida dog bite attorneys know how to fight back against these and other common defenses. We work with teams of experts who help us determine unequivocally what happened and who is liable. With offices in Naples, Boca Raton, Hollywood, and Coral Springs, we serve clients across Florida.
Non-Bite Injuries & Attacks
Florida dog owners can also be held legally accountable for non-bite injuries and attacks. Typically, the negligence rule applies in these types of cases. For example, if you were knocked down by a loose dog at a public park and suffered injuries as a result, you could file a claim against the dog owner if you can prove that they were negligent in some way. In this example, you could likely prove negligence by establishing that the owner failed to properly restrain the dog.
Non-bite injury claims in Florida operate in essentially the same manner as standard personal injury claims. This means you must prove the following:
- Duty of Care: You must establish that the dog owner had a duty to control the dog or otherwise take reasonable measures to prevent others from being injured.
- Breach: You will need to show that the dog owner failed to uphold the duty of care by acting negligently or wrongfully, such as failing to restrain the dog.
- Injuries: To have a personal injury case, you must prove that you were actually injured and/or suffered measurable damages.
- Causation: To be successful in your case, you will need to prove that the dog owner’s negligent or wrongful conduct was the cause of the attack and/or your injuries.
If you are found to have contributed to the incident that left you injured, you may still be able to seek compensation for your damages. Florida’s pure comparative fault rule does not prevent you from filing a personal injury claim unless you were 100% to blame for your injuries. However, if you are found partially at fault, your total recovery will be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault.
What Are Common Injuries From Dog Bites in Florida?
Dogs of all sizes and breeds, from Pit-Bulls to Chihuahuas, can cause significant bodily injury when they attack.
Some of the most common injuries resulting from dog bites and attacks include:
- Puncture wounds
- Significant bruising
- Broken bones
- Amputation/loss of limb
- Facial injuries
Victims may also suffer secondary injuries and complications, such as brain injuries or spine injuries from being knocked down or falling, serious infections such as rabies, and debilitating mental health conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. Often, trauma is more pronounced in child dog bite victims, though anyone can suffer significant distress following an attack.
Treating dog bite injuries can be extremely costly, painful, and time-consuming. At Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A., we believe that you should not have to shoulder the physical, financial, and emotional burdens associated with a dog attack on your own. Our Florida dog bite attorneys are prepared to hold liable owners accountable and seek the maximum compensation you are owed for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, trauma, and other losses.
What Should You Do Immediately After a Dog Bite?
If you were injured by a dog, or if your child or loved one was bitten, seek immediate medical attention. It is always better to assume that injuries are serious and could lead to potentially life-threatening complications. Make sure you see a medical professional as soon as possible after the incident.
If you can, you should also try to identify and locate the dog’s owner. If the owner was with the dog when the bite happened, ask for their name and contact information. Avoid saying anything that could be construed as admitting fault and do not downplay your injuries or refuse medical attention. If the dog owner is not around, contact animal control or call the local police. You should always report a dog bite or attack to the animal control department for your area, even if the dog owner was around.
Once you have gathered all available information and evidence and have sought appropriate medical treatment, contact an experienced dog bite attorney. A lawyer will be able to immediately begin building your case and protecting your rights. Your Florida dog bite lawyer can work with the dog owner’s insurance company or file a lawsuit directly against the liable party, if appropriate.
Our Florida Dog Bite Attorneys Can Fight For You
At Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A., we fight for every cent our clients deserve. If you or someone you love was attacked by a dog—whether it was a trusted pet or a stray—we are here to help you seek fair financial recovery so that you can heal and move forward with your life. We understand the sensitive nature of these claims, especially when the dog owner is someone you know. However, keep in mind that most claims are filed against dog owners’ insurance providers. This coverage is there specifically to compensate injured victims.
Even if insurance coverage is not available, you should not have to suffer the consequences of another person’s careless or negligent conduct. Our team is ready to fight for you and the justice you are owed. There are absolutely no legal fees unless we recover a settlement or verdict for you, so you have nothing to lose in calling our firm and talking to our attorneys about your case today.
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