When You Need an Experienced Tampa Dog Bite Lawyer
It’s safe to say Tampa is somewhat of a pooch’s paradise. Home to dog-friendly hiking, numerous dog parks, beaches, restaurants, and hotels, Tampa even has the distinction of being named one of the 10 most dog-friendly cities in the US by Travel & Leisure.
While dogs can bring great joy and love to a home, and many people consider a furry friend part of the family, the fact remains that not all dogs are friendly. Even the ones who are normally friendly with their family and people they know are capable of sudden and unpredictable aggressive behavior. Sometimes, such behavior can result in dog attacks and bites that can be devastating and even result in death.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of a vicious attack or consequential dog bite, it’s important to obtain experienced legal representation for a possible dog bite lawsuit. Then, you may be able to recover damages for your injuries, personal suffering, and lost wages. At the Fran Haasch Law Group, we are skilled personal injury lawyers and advocates for victims of Tampa dog bites. We fight tirelessly to get you the justice and compensation you deserve so that you can focus on healing.
How Common Are Dog Bite Injuries?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dogs bite nearly 5 million people a year in the U.S. Almost half of those injured are children, and about 800,000 of all dog attacks result in injuries that require medical attention. Nearly half of victims requiring medical attention need emergency room treatment. Approximately 16 people die each year after being attacked by dogs. Those most vulnerable to being bitten by a dog are children. The state of Florida ranks second in the country for most dog bite claims.
What Causes a Dog to Bite?
Dog bites happen for a number of reasons. Some frequent causes are:
- Territorial protectiveness – a dog may bite because it is trying to protect its territory, family, food, or possessions.
- Fear – a dog may bite when it feels threatened or fearful of things like loud noises, rambunctious play, intimidating behavior between others, or direct provocation from humans.
- Dominance – a dog who bites for this reason is typically an unneutered male trying to assert his dominance or status as the alpha.
- Maternal instinct – a mother dog may bite because she is instinctively protective of her new pups during the first few weeks after their birth.
- Pain – dogs sometimes bite when they are sick or in pain.
- Annoyance – Sometimes, dogs just want to be left alone and will bite if a person is persistently bothering them.
How to Prevent Dog Bites
Because most dog bite victims are children, parents and other adults should always make sure there is a physical barrier between dogs and children when adults cannot devote their full attention to their interactions. This is especially important for babies and toddlers. Dogs should be provided with resting and eating spaces away from where children commonly run or play. Also, children should never try to retrieve a toy or snack a dog has taken from them but should ask an adult instead.
It is best to avoid confrontational behavior with dogs that could trigger fear or aggressive response, such as harsh reprimands, hitting or spanking, pushing them off furniture, or forcibly taking away an item. Parents should model appropriate dog interactions for their children and teach them never to approach strange dogs without permission, let resting dogs lie, stay out of dog crates and beds, and never approach or touch a dog when it’s eating or chewing a rawhide or toy.
How Dangerous Can a Dog Bite Injury Be?
Dog bites can be minor and leave no more than a scratch, but they can also be very harmful, cause serious injuries and even death. Even small dogs can inflict significant damage, especially to babies and children.
Injuries from a dog attack can be disfiguring and life-changing. In addition, various types of bacteria present in a dog’s mouth can cause infections. Though rare in the United States, there is also the risk of rabies, a serious consideration for dog bite victims. If not treated promptly, the virus infects the brain and is almost always fatal.
Some of the most common and damaging types of dog bite injuries are:
- Puncture wounds and lacerations
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Broken bones
- Damage to ligaments, tendons, and muscle tissue
- Nerve damage
- Loss of eyesight
- Hearing loss or damage
- Facial trauma and scarring
Furthermore, dog bite victims—especially children—are frequently traumatized. They may experience PTSD, nightmares, anxiety, changes in behavior, and avoidance and fear of animals.
What To Do After A Tampa Dog Attack
If a vicious dog has attacked you or someone you care for, it is important to take the following actions:
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
- Report the attack to both the police and animal control.
- Obtain the dog owner’s name and contact information, if possible.
- Ask if the dog has been vaccinated.
- Photograph the victim’s injuries and the dog who caused them, if possible.
- Do not communicate with the dog owner or their insurance company. If you accept any form of compensation, you may waive your right to sue for additional damages.
- Contact an experienced Tampa dog bite lawyer at the Fran Haasch Law Group.
Florida Dog Bite Laws
Florida has a strict liability statute, and this means that if someone is bitten by a dog, the owner of that dog is held liable for the damages suffered by the victim. That holds true, whether or not the owner had knowledge of the dog’s potential viciousness or whether it had bitten anyone before. The only exception to this law is if the owner has prominently displayed a sign on their property that reads “Bad Dog,” unless the victim is under the age of 6 years old, in which case the owner is still liable.
Florida does not have a “one bite” law, either. States that follow one-bite laws deem the owner of a dog liable if it bites someone only if they knew or should have known that the dog might act in a dangerous or harmful way. It is so called because it operates on the theory that a dog gets one free bite, and after that, the owner is held responsible for any future vicious behavior.
Florida Dangerous Dog laws state that you can claim damages for injuries from a dog bite as long as you can:
- Prove that the dog bit you.
- Prove that you were in a public space or lawfully on private property.
Dog owners are accountable for their pets’ behavior under Florida law. If you are the victim of a Tampa dog bite, contact us immediately and speak to one of the knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorneys at our law firm. Dog bite injuries are one of our several practice areas, and we gladly offer a free and honest evaluation of the worth of your case.
Florida law specifies certain rules and regulations for dangerous dogs. The state may officially classify a dog as a “Dangerous Dog” once it has:
- Bitten, attacked, or caused severe injury to a person.
- More than once, severely injured or killed a domestic animal while off the owner’s property.
- Approached or chased a person in a menacing way or in an attitude of attack on the street or any public space.
Such dogs are subject to investigation and may be taken by the state and quarantined until they are deemed safe to be returned to the owner or are deemed unsafe and are destroyed. Dogs that are classified as dangerous and returned to their owners must be registered with authorities. In addition, the owner of the animal is required to follow specific rules regarding its containment, permanent identification as a dangerous dog, and how it must be restrained when not in its enclosure.
If you are the victim of a Tampa dog bite by a dangerous dog, you have much greater chances of recovering compensation for your injuries. However, under Florida’s dog bite law, a dog does not have to be officially classified as dangerous for a victim to claim damages.
Furthermore, if a previously declared dangerous dog bites someone, the owner can be held liable for negligence and face criminal punishment.
What Constitutes Negligence?
Tampa Dog owners can be charged with negligence if they:
- Failed to keep the dog on a leash in a public area.
- Failed to keep the dog in a properly secured enclosure.
- Allowed the dog to roam freely.
- Failed to install conspicuous signage warning people of the presence of a dangerous dog.
Does Florida Have Any Dog Breed Restrictions?
While some breeds may be considered more aggressive or dangerous than others, the state of Florida does not restrict or ban any specific breeds.
However, it is a municipality’s right to determine its own local ordinances regarding breed restrictions. For example, Miami-Dade County has strict requirements for the owners of pit bulls.
The city of Tampa does not have any breed restrictions or bans. That being said, homeowner associations, condos, and apartment complexes have the right to enforce breed restrictions in their respective neighborhoods and buildings.
Florida Comparative Negligence Law
Florida is a comparative negligence state, meaning that if someone is partially at fault for an accident in which they are harmed, the amount of damages that person can recover in a lawsuit will be reduced in an amount commensurate to their fault.
If you are the victim of dog bite injuries, the dog owner or insurance company may try to blame you for the animal attack by saying you provoked the dog or trespassed on the property. They’re hoping you will be allocated a degree of fault to reduce the amount of damages they pay for your injury claim.
Proving that the victim is to blame is complicated in dog bite cases. Still, insurance companies will try to avoid responsibility for paying what you justly deserve for your injuries and personal losses. That’s why it is imperative for you to seek assistance from an experienced Tampa dog bite law firm.
We humbly and compassionately serve dog attack victims in Tampa, Clearwater, Palm Harbor, St. Petersburg, and throughout the Greater Tampa Bay Region and beyond. Contact us today for a free evaluation.
How Dog Owners Attempt to Evade Strict Liability
Although Florida law is clear about strict liability, dog owners and insurance companies frequently employ strategies to avoid being held liable for compensation owed to the victim of a dog bite attack. The primary defenses they put forth invoke the comparative negligence statute. Those defenses are usually that:
- The victim was aged six years or older, and the dog owner had prominently displayed a warning sign on their property of a dangerous or bad dog.
- The victim provoked the dog.
- The victim trespassed on private property.
Even if any of these factors are potentially accurate regarding your case, it does not necessarily abolish your right to file a dog bite claim and recover damages on other grounds.
What is a Tampa Dog Bite Injury Case Worth?
Every dog bite claim is unique, so it isn’t possible to determine the worth of a particular case without first conducting a thorough investigation of the attack and resulting injuries. There are a variety of factors that determine how much a victim may be able to recover, including:
- The victim’s age
- The severity of the injuries
- The cost and duration of medical treatment and rehabilitation
- The value of lost wages and inability to work
- Whether the dog owner was negligent
- How and where the dog attack occurred
- Availability of applicable insurance coverage.
How Do Tampa Dog Bite Lawyers Recover Damages?
In dog bite injuries, financial compensation is paid through insurance coverage. This coverage is provided by the dog owner’s homeowners insurance, though the bite does not have to occur at the owner’s home to be covered. The real coverage is for the owner’s legal liability, and it applies almost anywhere the bite occurred. For example, if a dog bite occurs inside the owner’s vehicle, their automobile insurance company may cover the claim. Some people also have umbrella policies or animal insurance, especially if their dog is deemed dangerous since this is a requirement.
Most homeowners policies and renters insurance have coverage limits of $100,000 to $300,000, with some policies also carrying umbrella coverage of $1 million or more. These amounts are typically sufficient to compensate a victim for their injuries. However, if the insurance is inadequate, a claim can still be filed, and the owner may have to pay through supplementary methods.
According to data from the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm, dog bites are one of the primary sources of personal injury claims in the United States, with nearly $800 million in payouts made in 2019. The average claim amount was $44,760.
What Damages Can I Claim From a Tampa Dog Bite?
Dog bite victims are entitled to claim economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages you may qualify to pursue include:
- Medical bills to treat your injuries
- Ongoing medical expenses
- Lost income and lost future earning potential
- Psychological counseling, particularly if the victim is a child
The non-economic damages a victim may qualify to pursue pertain to their quality of life after the attack. They include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress, PTSD, anxiety, or depression
- Loss of quality of life due to disability
- Disfigurement and scarring
If a Tampa, FL dog bite attack results in a tragic fatality, you may also qualify for a wrongful death claim. An experienced dog bite injury lawyer at the Fran Haasch Law Group can sensitively and compassionately help you determine if this is something you may wish to pursue.
Can a Tampa Dog Bite Attorney Help Me?
Absolutely. The dog bite injury lawyers at the Fran Haasch law group are skilled and experienced at investigating every facet of dog attacks. We will fight for the compensation you deserve to cover the medical expenses, trauma, and pain and suffering endured by you or your loved one. Contact us for a free evaluation, and find your dog bite lawyer, Tampa.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim for a Tampa Dog Bite?
In Florida, the statute of limitations is four years to file a personal injury lawsuit for dog bite injuries. However, it’s wise to consult a Tampa dog bite lawyer as soon as possible after an attack. Dog bites are one of the practice areas of the Fran Haasch Law Group, and a dog bite attorney can help you gather the evidence you’ll need to take legal action.
Tampa Dog Bite Lawyers for Work-Related Dog Bites
Dog attacks are especially problematic for people in certain occupations, particularly letter carriers, package deliverers, newspaper carriers, and other individuals with similar occupations. If you were bitten by a dog while performing your job, you might qualify to file a worker’s compensation injury claim to cover your medical bills and other damages. Speaking to a Tampa dog bite lawyer at the Fran Haasch Law Group can help you determine if this applies to your situation.
Tampa Personal Injury Dog Bite Lawyers Who Fight for You
In addition to puncture wounds, broken bones, tissue damage, and many other horrific injuries, dog attacks can cause serious mental and emotional trauma. Don’t attempt to negotiate a settlement alone if you or someone you love has been the victim of a vicious animal in Tampa, FL. Instead, speak with a knowledgeable lawyer at the Fran Haasch Law Group. We are experts at fighting for your justice and compensation. We gladly offer a free evaluation, and we have a no-win, no-fee policy; unless compensation is obtained for you, there is no fee owed.
Call our office at (727) 784-8191 to request an initial case evaluation. We do not charge initial fees, and you only pay if we successfully recover compensation for you. Don’t wait. Contact us for your free consultation today.