If you or your child have been a victim of a dog bite, you have rights. To learn more, contact the Bradenton dog bite attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman.
For most people, dogs elicit a sense of joy and warmth. After all, dogs are man’s best friend. According to the Insurance Information Institute, over 63 million households own at least one dog. That is more than any other type of animal. And for the most part, dogs are man’s loyal companion. Dogs can reduce stress, are generally good for the heart, and can help their owner become more social.
However, dogs can be provoked and, unfortunately, not all dogs are friendly. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 4.5 people suffer from dog bites every year. One out of five of these people is children.
About Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman’s Bradenton Dog Bite Lawyers
After an injury, you want to have someone by your side who you can trust. At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, our priority is our clients. Since 2009, we have worked with clients to help them fight for their rights after an injury. We know that an injury can hurt you and your family. That is why we hope to offer support and compassion to every client who walks through our doors.
It is our dedication to our clients that help achieve results. When you work with Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, you will receive your attorney’s cell phone number and email address, so you can get a hold of your personal injury attorney and they can address any questions you have. To speak to one of our legal professionals, contact us today.
Dog Bite Laws
Bradenton takes dog ownership seriously, as does Florida. If you own a dog, you have certain responsibilities to keep those around you safe from your dog. In the event of a dog bite, Florida assigns owners full responsibility. This means the owner can be held responsible for any damages that result from a bite, regardless of the dog’s breed or previous behavior. This law applies to dogs on public land and private property.
However, if the owner can prove negligence on the part of the victim, their level of responsibility will be proportionately reduced. This means, if the victim is antagonizing the dog or otherwise provoking it, they may hold some responsibility. This applies in all cases, except where the victim is under six years old; in this case, the dog owner would hold full financial responsibility.
Two exceptions allow the owner to escape liability:
- The dog was protecting a person or property from a trespasser.
- The owner had a prominently displayed sign, warning of the dangerous or “bad dog.”
What to Do After a Bradenton Dog Bite
Dog bites can be serious. Even small dogs can cause serious damage. That is why it is important to act promptly and take action to prevent further injury.
Regardless of whether the injury is to you or your child, there are certain actions you should take.
- Move away from the animal. The goal is to reduce the potential for further damage. Unfortunately, dogs do not always respond to verbal commands and may continue to attack. Move to another room where you can close the door or leave the house. If the dog bite occurs outside, move inside or away from the area.
- Check for injuries. If there are any life-threatening injuries or if you cannot get the bleeding to stop, go to the emergency room or call 911.
- Ask about the dog’s vaccination history. Florida law requires all dog owners to vaccinate their pets against rabies. Unfortunately, not all dog owners comply.
- Seek medical treatment. Dog bites can lead to serious injury and disease. It is important to seek prompt medical attention. A doctor can clean the wound and apply stitches, if necessary. If you could get the dog’s vaccination record, share it with your doctor.
- Contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman. The law allows victims to pursue financial compensation after a dog bite. A Bradenton dog bite attorney could help you gather evidence and present a case. Generally, the owner’s homeowner’s insurance will cover a dog bite. If the owner does not have insurance or if the insurance does not cover dog bites, an attorney could help you pursue appropriate compensation directly from the owner.
Possible Bradenton Dog Bite Injuries
People often underestimate just how serious a dog bite can be. According to a study by National Geographic, dog bites contain about 320 pounds of pressure, on average. In comparison, a human bite exhibits about 120 pounds of pressure.
With such extreme force comes the potential for serious injury. This can include:
Cuts and Lacerations
A dog’s teeth are designed to cut flesh. While this helps them survive in the wild, it can cause serious harm to someone who suffers from a dog bite. The severity of the bite can depend on the size and breed of the dog, in addition to how long the dog held on before they let go. While minor cuts may only require at-home first aid care, more serious bites can require medical treatment. In some cases, this may involve stitches.
Any time you have an open wound, there is a risk of infection. This is especially true if the wound was exposed to the dog’s saliva and anything else that was on or near the dog’s mouth.
Keep any open wound as clean as possible. Rinse out the wound and disinfect it before administering first aid. Keep the wound covered and away from dirt until you can seek appropriate medical attention.
Signs of an infection include:
- Delayed healing
If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention.
Severe cuts can extend beyond the skin and affect the nerves. This can cause a loss of feeling or function. In this case, surgery is typically necessary. Be sure to let your doctor know if you feel any numbness, tingling, or difficulty moving.
Serious attacks can cause permanent damage and disfiguration. This is especially true when a large dog attacks the face. These injuries may require multiple surgeries, extensive rehabilitation, and leave permanent scars.
Experiencing a dog bite can be traumatic. Vicious or prolonged attacks can make a person fear for their life. After such an attack, it is normal to have difficulty processing the events. You may relive the event or struggle to move on. In many cases, serious attacks can lead to anxiety around dogs or animals, and may result in the development of post-traumatic stress disorder.
How to Prevent Bradenton Dog Bites
Any dog has the potential to attack in Bradenton. Even trained, well-behaved dogs may attack if they feel threatened or if they are trying to protect their owners. Your actions matter.
Some things you can do to help prevent a Bradenton dog bite or attack include:
- Keep small children away from dogs: Small children are not old enough to fully understand how to behave around an animal. They may tug on a dog’s tail or get too close to their face. While this may seem like fun to a child, the dog may become frightened or agitated and may unexpectedly attack.
- Ask before you approach an unfamiliar dog: Some dogs do not like strangers. It is extremely important to ask the dog’s owner for permission to pet the dog before you approach it. Even after you receive permission, approach slowly and let the dog get to know you. This can help them feel more comfortable and may make them less likely to bite.
- Treat dogs with respect: Dogs may bite if someone provokes them. Dogs are living beings. Do not poke or otherwise aggravate a dog. They may respond aggressively, at which point you will have little time to react.
- Be aware of the dog’s surroundings: Dogs can act differently under certain circumstances. Do not approach a dog if it is eating or if it is fighting with another dog. If the dog is a stray or is not around its owner, use extreme caution. It is better to avoid approaching a dog if there is no owner around.
Your Rights to Financial Compensation
Dog bites can lead to serious injuries. That is why the law allows victims the right to pursue financial compensation. Florida law allows victims four years to file a personal injury suit. Each case is different and will depend on your actual injury.
Some common costs included in a personal injury suit are:
- Medical costs: Medical bills can be expensive. Dog bites can lead to multiple surgeries and require extended rehabilitation. A personal injury suit could help you recover these costs. Covered costs may include office visits, surgery, hospital stays, medication, physical therapy, and mental health counseling.
- Lost wages: Serious injuries can cause you to miss time at work. When this happens, keeping up with the bills can be difficult. Compensation for lost wages can help you recover wages for any time missed from work as a direct result of your injuries.
- Pain and suffering: Dog bites can be painful, physically and emotionally. Damages for pain and suffering can help assign an amount to this pain. Often, pain does not come with a direct cost. Insurance companies generally look at the degree of your pain and how much it interferes with your quality of life to calculate this cost.
How Our Experienced Bradenton Dog Bite Attorneys Could Help
The law does not require you to have an attorney to recover damages after a dog bite. However, it is a good idea to sit down and talk to a lawyer, especially for more serious cases. After a traumatic attack, it can be impossible to determine how the dog bite will affect your future. Injuries can interfere with your employment, health, and emotional well-being. These are factors you should consider before accepting any sort of settlement.
Some of the things a lawyer could do for you include:
- Gather evidence: Evidence can help support your case and provide clarity if the dog’s owner disputes your claim. Among other things, relevant evidence may include witness testimony, video evidence, veterinary records, and expert testimony.
- Coordinate medical care: Part of a personal injury attorney’s job is to build relationships with local healthcare providers. Your attorney could refer you to specialists, review your records, and set up deferred billing.
- Talk to the insurance company: Insurance companies often do not like to pay out money. This can make negotiations difficult and stressful. One of the biggest parts of your attorney’s job will be to work with the insurance adjuster to secure a fair settlement.
- Represent you in court: It is often a goal of attorneys to settle cases outside of court. However, this is not always possible. When the insurance company is not willing to come to a fair agreement, it may be necessary to go to court. When this happens, it can be beneficial to have an experienced legal professional in your corner to help protect your rights.
Bradenton Dog Bite FAQ
Few incidents can provoke lasting fear of animals as much as a dog attack. The scars from a dog bite in Bradenton run more than skin deep. Victims of dog attacks, especially young children, may live in fear of dogs for the rest of their lives, and may have to contend with the trauma of living with disfigurement, disease, or disability because of the harm the dog inflicted.
Victims of Bradenton dog bites have substantial legal rights, but many do not know exactly how the law benefits them. Below we answer some common questions we receive about dog bites in Bradenton, and how a lawyer can help dog bite victims seek compensation for their injuries and losses. For answers to specific questions about a Bradenton dog bite that left you or a loved one injured, contact an experienced dog bite injury attorney today.
A dog bit me in Bradenton. Can I sue the owner?
Chances are good that you can. Here’s why.
In Florida, a dog’s owner has strict legal liability for damages to anyone bitten by the dog while the victim is on public property, or lawfully on private property, regardless of whether the owner knew the dog could be vicious. Strict legal liability means that the owner must pay damages to the dog bite victim, even if the owner did not act negligently in handling the dog.
So, if you were in a public place, or on private property lawfully, and a dog bit you, then you stand a good chance of having a claim for damages against the dog’s owner.
I was bitten by a dog on a Bradenton property where the owner had posted a sign that said “Dangerous Dog.” What does that mean?
It means the owner might have known the dog was dangerous and posted the sign as a warning to visitors. It also means that the owner might not have strict liability to you, but instead, will face liability to you if you (or your lawyer) can show the bite happened because of something negligent the owner did.
Florida’s “Bad Dog” rule is what lawyers call a safe harbor provision. It gives dog owners partial protection from liability if they post a warning about their dog that just about anyone who can read will understand. By putting visitors on notice of the dangerous dog on the owner’s property, the owner will not face legal liability unless the bite happens because of some unreasonable decision or action on the owner’s part that led to the dog biting you.
For example, the owner could still have liability to you if:
- The owner did not keep the dog on a restraint, such as a leash, or in a fenced-in area, when you came onto the property;
- The owner did not take reasonable action to stop the dog from attacking you; or
- The owner encouraged the dog to bite you or jump on you.
Also, posting a Dangerous Dog sign does not excuse the owner from strict liability if the victim of the dog bite is younger than six. The law assumes that a young child can’t read the sign, or may not understand what it means. In other words, for all intents-and-purposes, a Bradenton dog owner always has strict legal liability when the owner’s dog bites a child younger than six.
How do I know if I was lawfully on the private property where a dog bit me?
In most Bradenton dog bite cases, you can assume you were there lawfully. The obvious exception is if a dog bit you while you were knowingly trespassing on someone else’s property to, say, commit a burglary. Or, to quote Florida law:
A person is lawfully upon private property of such owner … when the person is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him or her by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when the person is on such property upon invitation, expressed or implied, of the owner.
In other words, you are lawfully on private property if you go there to perform your job as, say, a mail carrier or electricity meter reader. You are also there lawfully if the owner expressly invites you, or if you reasonably believe you have the owner’s permission even if the owner never officially invited you. Those situations encompass the vast majority of situations in which people suffer dog bite injuries.
If you have any doubt about whether your presence on the property where the dog bit you was lawful, then contact an experienced Bradenton dog bite injury attorney for a free consultation to learn about your rights.
The dog that bit me wasn’t on a leash. Is that even allowed in Bradenton?
It depends on where the attack happened. Manatee County ordinances make it illegal to allow a dog to roam free (or “at large”) on any public property, street, or sidewalk. In other words, a dog is not allowed to roam public areas while not under the control of the owner. An owner might exercise control over a dog with a leash, an electric collar, or (in the case of very-well-trained dogs) with voice commands.
It is also unlawful in Bradenton for owners to allow their dog to roam at large on private property unless the owner has the private property owner’s consent. So, for example, it would probably violate the ordinance for an owner to bring a dog (other than a licensed service animal) to the mall and to allow it to roam on its own.
An owner’s failure to control a dog in these settings exposes the owner to strict legal liability in most cases, and would also likely constitute negligence on the part of the owner that would make the owner liable even if strict liability rules did not apply.
Can I sue the owner of the property where the dog bit me, even if the dog did not belong to the property owner?
Possibly. A Bradenton property owner who is not the dog’s owner might independently face legal liability to the victim of a dog attack if the owner failed to take reasonable steps to keep the victim safe from that attack.
Here is an example of how that might happen. Bradenton city ordinances permit restaurants to allow dogs (other than licensed service dogs) in outdoor dining areas, subject to a strict set of regulations aimed at making sure dogs do not pose a physical or public health hazard to restaurant patrons. A restaurant that ignores those regulations and allows a dog to roam its premises may face liability to someone that dog attacks, separate and apart from the liability the dog’s owner would likely have for the victim’s injuries and losses.
The dog that bit me was a police dog. Can I sue the Bradenton Police Department?
It’s possible, and you should speak with an experienced Bradenton dog bite attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your rights. You may have a very limited amount of time to take legal action.
Currently, Florida statutes do not expressly exempt police dogs from the strict liability provisions of the law. In many cases, a judge or jury may treat the injury caused by a police K-9 as the victim’s fault.
But not all cases. First, although uncommon, police K-9s have been known to bite people other than criminal suspects. In those cases, the police department may face the same strict liability to the victim as any other dog owner. Second, criminal suspects have constitutional rights that protect them against unreasonable use of force by law enforcement. Use of a police K-9 against a suspect may, in some instances, qualify as an unconstitutional use of force for which the police department should pay damages.
As noted above, time is the key factor in police dog attack scenarios. Suing a government entity like a police department requires adherence to different rules than suing a private citizen. Speak with an experienced Bradenton dog bite attorney immediately to protect your rights.
How can I find out if my Bradenton neighbor’s dog is dangerous?
First, look for a “Bad Dog” sign posted on your neighbor’s property. That should serve as a clear warning to you and your family to beware of your neighbor’s dog.
Florida law and regulations also provide for dogs to be officially declared dangerous dogs. A dog designated as dangerous has typically attacked a person, domesticated animal, or livestock in the past, and has had a complaint registered against it and its owner with Manatee County Animal Services. Owners of dogs officially designated as dangerous face stiff criminal penalties for failing to register, license, and restrain their dogs, and even-stiffer sanctions if their dangerous dog attacks someone.
To find out if your neighbor’s dog has received an official designation as a dangerous dog, check the Manatee County Animal Services website here.
Someone else’s dog just bit me in Bradenton and broke the skin. What should I do?
Your top priority after suffering a dog bite injury is to treat the wound and seek medical attention if appropriate.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, dog bite victims should take the following steps immediately after suffering the injury:
- Wash the wound gently with soap and water.
- Apply pressure with a clean towel to the injured area to stop any bleeding.
- Apply a sterile bandage to the wound.
- Keep the wound elevated above your heart to prevent swelling and infection.
In most cases, after taking these initial steps, you should contact your regular physician for instructions or, if necessary, go to the emergency room or an urgent care clinic. Dog bites pose a significant risk of infection because dogs’ mouths teem with bacteria. A dog that bites may also carry the rabies virus. Seeking medical care protects you from these potentially deadly infections. It also generates records that document your injury, which may prove useful in a lawsuit against the dog’s owner, and it protects you against accusations that you made your injury worse by ignoring it.
After taking appropriate steps to treat the wound, report the bite right away to Manatee County Animal Services at 941-742-5933, ext. 1. Animal Services can implement the protocols necessary to evaluate your rabies risk, which may include quarantining the dog. Under Manatee County ordinances, you must report a bite to Animal Control. Do not put your legal rights at risk by skipping this important step.
If possible, take care to collect and preserve important information and evidence. Get the name of the dog’s owner, the dog’s vaccination information, the name of the dog’s regular veterinarian, and whether the dog has attacked in the past. Take pictures of where the attack occurred. Keep the clothing you were wearing, especially if the bite tore holes in it. In the days and weeks ahead, keep all documentation you receive about the bite, including medical bills and insurance information.
Next, do not agree to “settle” things informally with the dog’s owner, and do not take any payment offered to you by the owner’s insurance company. Accepting any form of compensation could jeopardize your legal rights to seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses, including compensation for your medical and other injury-related expenses, your lost wages from missing work, and your pain and suffering.
Finally, contact the experienced Bradenton dog bite attorneys at the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman as soon as possible. The sooner you have an attorney working on your behalf, the better your chances of securing the maximum money damages the law permits you to recover from the owner and others. Compensation cannot make the trauma of a Bradenton dog attack go away, but it can provide you with the financial support you need to heal from the physical and emotional wounds a dog bite can cause.
Injured? Contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman’s Bradenton Dog Bite Attorneys
At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, we know injuries do not just affect the victim; they can affect the entire family. Our job is to help victims move forward with their lives and begin to heal. While money will not take away the pain of an injury, it can help pay for necessary costs while you focus on your recovery. The last thing you need to worry about right now is how you are going to pay for your bills. If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite in Bradenton, you have rights.
With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH), or you can fill out our online contact form for a free consultation with one of our legal professionals.
6703 14th Street West Suite 207
Bradenton, FL 34207
Phone: (941) 961-8841
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