dog biting a person's hand

Dog Bites

Dogs are often called man’s best friend, but what happens when “man’s best friend” turns on you? Whether a dog attacks because of a medical issue, a perceived threat, or poor training, victims of dog bites are often left with mental trauma and serious injuries. Victims are often afraid to reach out to a personal injury attorney in Lakeland because they don’t want to sour relationships with people in their neighborhood or they are afraid of a dog being euthanized after one bite.

In most situations, seeking legal assistance for a dog bite does not cause direct financial trouble for the owner, nor does it lead to euthanasia. However, failing to seek legal help can directly harm you as you start to get medical bills from the bite and you struggle with the mental aftermath of the attack. Don’t wait to talk to one of the top injury lawyers in Lakeland. Contact Darla K. Snead, P.L. now.

Dog Bite Liability

Generally, the dog’s owner is held liable when a dog bites someone. Florida is what is known as a strict liability state. Because of this, an owner can be forced to pay damages, even if they did not previously know that their dog was at risk of biting. Additionally, state law does not require a victim to prove that the owner’s negligence caused their injuries. The fact that the dog bit you may be enough.

What if the Owner Isn’t Liable?

There are some circumstances under which a dog owner is not liable for their dog’s actions. If the victim of the bite was trespassing on the owner’s property when the dog bit them, the liability falls on the victim. The victim is also liable if they provoke the dog. If the dog was protecting its owner from a real or perceived threat or attack at the time of the bite, the owner may not be liable for the damage caused by their dog.

Types of Compensation

When you suffer a dog bite, you may suffer serious financial loss. This might not occur to you right away. Of course, you have to pay an emergency co-pay, which may be as high as $500 with some insurance plans, but isn’t that where the damage ends? Unfortunately, you could be out thousands more before all is said and done. Beyond your co-pay, you may also have high bills coming your way for surgery, rabies testing, physician’s fees, antibiotics, and follow-up appointments.

Additionally, don’t forget about the time you have to spend away from work. At a minimum, you will likely need at least one or two days off to attend to your immediate medical needs and rest. If you suffer a more serious bite or attack, you could be looking at weeks or even months of recovery. You are at high risk of infection after a dog bite, so your doctor may recommend that you stay home to minimize your risk.

For many people, these two categories make up the majority of the compensation they receive after a dog bite. Your Lakeland personal injury attorney may recommend seeking compensation for current medical bills, future medical expenses, lost wages, and lost future wages if you are likely to need substantial time away from your job. On top of that, though, you might be able to seek damages for pain and suffering. Dog bites can be exceedingly painful, and victims often undergo a difficult and agonizing healing process. Compensation may also be awarded for mental anguish and trauma. People who are bitten by dogs often develop dog phobias or PTSD, leaving them unable to go into public areas where they may encounter dogs. If this happens to you, you deserve compensation for the change in your ability to enjoy life to the fullest.

What if the Dog Belongs to a Friend or Neighbor? 

In many situations, individuals aren’t bitten by a stranger’s dog. It’s easy to consider legal action when a dog’s owner is a stranger, but much more challenging to reach out to a Lakeland personal injury lawyer when the owner is someone you know and have a relationship with.

Even if the dog’s owner is someone you know, you still have the right to seek compensation. It is unlikely that they will suffer direct losses as a result of your decision. If they are a homeowner, their home insurance provider may pay out your settlement without getting them involved. If they are a renter, the claim may be covered by their renters’ insurance or by their landlord’s property insurance.

Furthermore, a first bite is unlikely to lead to euthanasia for a dog that has otherwise been very friendly to humans. The dog owner will likely get a warning and take certain steps to protect people from their dog. Euthanasia is often only recommended after a first bite if the dog causes serious damage or attacks a child.

Regardless of your relationship with the dog’s owner, you are the victim. You should not be left suffering all of the financial damage after a dog bite.

How Darla K. Snead, P.L. Can Help

As experienced personal injury attorneys, Darla K. Snead and Michael H. Dulin are committed to helping accident victims get the compensation they need to recover from their injuries. They are aware of the sensitive nature of dog bite cases when the victim and the dog’s owner know each other, and they are committed to securing a fair resolution without burning bridges. If you have been bitten by a dog, don’t wait any longer to get the legal support you deserve. Call Darla K. Snead, P.L. or contact us online to explore your options.

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