Dog bites often cause serious personal injuries.
In fact, according to the Florida Department of Health, 600 people are seriously injured by dog bites every year. And, at least 2 people per year die as a result of being attacked by a dog.
Not all dog bites will result in a personal injury action, of course. However, some will.
We often discuss what steps to take after getting into a car accident, but people don’t often talk about what the important steps are to take after you are bitten by a dog.
And yet, since dog bites are so common, knowing what steps to take after a dog bite can be very helpful—whether you end up suing the dog owner or not.
Being Bitten by a Dog of Any Size is Serious. So Take Every Dog Bite Seriously.
Unfortunately, not everyone understands that when their dog threatens to bite someone or does bite someone—whether it breaks the skin or not—the situation is a serious one.
Having a small dog chase after you and bite at your ankles, or strain at the end of a leash trying to sink its teeth into you as walk by in a public park, or jump up on you and bite you when you enter a friend’s home, is not an uncommon situation.
But small dogs can be dangerous too.
But many dog owners do not recognize that their small, people-aggressive dogs also pose a serious threat to others. And so most bites by small dogs go unreported.
Many people believe that just because a dog is small, he can’t inflict much harm.
Not so. Even small dogs can pose a serious injury to others.
And biting in a dog —regardless of size— is not behavior that can be, or should be, ignored.
Florida’s Law on Dog Bites
In Florida, if a dog bites someone, the law imposes a rule of “strict liability.”
If an individual is in a public place or is lawfully on private property—whether the dog owner’s property or other private property, and that individual is bitten by a dog, the dog owner will be held strictly liable for the damage incurred.
Basically, what this means is that it does not matter whether the dog owner knew, or should have known, or had absolutely no clue— that his/her dog might bite someone…if the dog does bite, then the dog owner will be held responsible for the damage.
The statute is a victim’s only recourse for a dog bite and it applies to dog bites only.
If, for example, a person is injured because a dog jumped up on him and knocked him down, but the dog did not bite him, then the strict liability statute would not apply.
That does not mean you cannot receive compensation for your injuries. You may indeed be able to. It simply means you will not be able to use the statute to do so.
Understanding the applicable law may be interesting, but if you are bitten by a dog, practical information may be of more help to you.
Important Steps to Take After You are Bitten by a Dog.
Seek Medical Attention
As with any personal injury case, your first priority must be to seek medical attention for your injuries.
While this can vary depending on the seriousness of the attack and your injuries, generally speaking it is best to seek emergency care immediately after, just as you would if it were a car accident, because even minor dog bites may become infected.
Again, depending on the severity of the attack, you may want to have medical records to document your injuries. And, you may want to contact a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible.
Get Essential Information on the Dog, and Dog Ownership
If you do not know who the true owner of the dog is, for example, if you were bitten while the dog was being walked by a dog walker and not the owner, another initial step you will want to take is finding out who owns the dog.
Just as you would if it were a car accident, you want to get essential information including the name and address of the dog’s owner.
In addition, you will need to make sure to identify the exact animal involved in the incident. You may be able to find out such things as the dog’s license number and whether or not it has bitten other people before.
Report the Dog Bite
Another important step to take is to report the dog bite to your local county health department.
You may not want to report it, but you may have a legal duty to. Government officials are responsible for protecting their citizens from rabies and other diseases caused by dog bites or wild animal bites, so these reports are important.
Having such a report may also be helpful in any action you may need to bring to recover for your injuries.
Again, speaking with a dog bite lawyer can help answer any questions you may have and can make the entire process easier for you.
Get the Help You Need
Finally, if you suffered a serious attack, you will want to contact a dog bite lawyer.
The guidance and advice of an experienced personal injury attorney can make the entire process less stressful for you. You may need to have an attorney if you need to file a claim against the dog owner, however, a dog bite lawyer can also assist in negotiating out-of-court settlements as well.
The Legal Help You Need When You Need It.
Our team of personal injury attorneys are dedicated to helping those who are injured through the negligence of another. If you have been injured due to the negligence of another, contact us or call the firm at 777-JOHN. Our main office is in Orange Park, but we serve clients throughout Florida. We have consulting offices in Palatka, Middleburg, Keystone, Starke, Gainesville, and Ocala.