“Florida law imposes liability on the owner of a dog that bites…sometimes the resulting dog attack causes disfiguring and permanent scarring for which compensation may be available…”
Erik G. Abrahamson, Senior Partner
While walking in your neighborhood, on the sidewalk downtown, or on the boardwalk at the beach, the last thing you expect is to be attacked by a dog. You expect dog owners to control their pets – to keep them on a leash in public and to keep them fenced in at their homes.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Numerous unsuspecting individuals in the Tampa area suffer severe physical injuries in dog attacks every year. Dog attacks can be terrifying and traumatic experiences, and as a result many victims also suffer severe emotional harm. When a dog attack leads to lingering pain, scarring, or disfigurement, the consequences can be lifelong.
At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we provide experienced legal representation for dog attack victims in the greater Tampa area. If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog or suffered other injuries in a dog attack, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free, no-obligation consultation with a dog attack lawyer.
Understanding Florida’s Dog Attack Laws
Florida’s dog attack laws are more complicated than those in some other states. However, they also provide certain protections that many other states’ laws do not offer.
1. Owners are “Strictly Liable” for Dog Bites.
Under Florida law, dog owners are “strictly liable” for injuries sustained due to dog bites. Section 767.04 of the Florida Statutes reads:
Dog owner’s liability for damages to persons bitten. The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.
In other words, if someone else’s dog bites you, as long as you were not trespassing at the time of the attack, the dog’s owner is most likely going to be financially responsible for your bite-related injuries. This is true regardless of whether the dog’s owner was negligent in allowing the attack to occur. In most cases, if you were bitten and suffered injuries, you are entitled to financial compensation.
Florida’s dog bite law includes one partial exception: If you were negligent in causing the dog to attack you (for example, if you were teasing or harassing the dog), then your financial recovery can be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault. However, even if you think that you may have been partially to blame, this should not dissuade you from seeking legal representation by our dog bite injury law team.
2. Owners are Liable for Other Attacks Resulting from Negligence.
If Florida’s “strict liability” law only applies to dog bites, what are your rights if you suffer injuries that are not caused by a bite?
Often, dogs will attack people – whether maliciously or not – causing them to stumble and fall. If you were injured when a dog knocked you down, you may still be able to seek compensation. Under Florida law, the distinction between dog bites and other dog attack injuries is that, in order to recover for non-bite injuries, you need to be able to show that the dog’s owner was negligent (or, failed to exercise reasonable care) in failing to prevent the attack.
However, this is no different than any other personal injury claim. The “strict liability” law is the exception to the rule – the vast majority of injury claims are based on negligence. At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we have decades of experience representing thousands of injury victims, and we can do what it takes to fight for the compensation that you deserve.
3. The Statute of Limitations for Dog Attack Claims in Florida is Four Years.
Under Section 95.11 of the Florida Statutes, the statute of limitations for dog attack claims is four years. This is true for both dog bites and other types of attacks.
But, four years is a long time to wait to stand up for your legal rights. During those four years, your injuries could (mostly) heal, and the dog’s owner may even move away. As a result, while you have four years, you certainly do not want to wait four years to bring a claim. In fact, to help maximize your chances of securing rightful compensation, you should speak with a dog bite attorney as soon as possible.
Understanding Your Rights After a Vicious Dog Attack
If you or a loved one was injured in a dog attack, you need to know your rights. In Florida:
- You have the right to seek medical attention. After a dog attack, it is important that you see a doctor right away. Any medical expenses that you incur will be subject to reimbursement as part of your claim. You do not want to jeopardize your health by worrying about the costs of your treatment. If you have concerns, we urge you to contact our dog bite injury lawyers right away.
- You have the right to be fairly compensated. For many dog attack victims, the consequences of their attacks extend far beyond the bills from a single trip to the hospital. Surgeries, physical therapy, counseling, and other forms of treatment can cost tens – or hundreds – of thousands of dollars, and victims with serious injuries often incur significant additional expenses as well. Then, there are the non-financial losses: Pain, suffering, scarring and disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life. These are all losses for which you are entitled to seek compensation under the law.
- You have the right to experienced legal representation. Dog attack claims are complicated, and the insurance companies (read below for more on insurance issues) know what they are doing when it comes to minimizing payouts for dog attack injuries. To protect yourself, it is important that you hire an experienced dog attack injury attorney. At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we believe that all injury victims deserve experienced representation, and that is why we do not charge any fees unless we obtain a settlement or verdict on your behalf.
Why Choose Abrahamson & Uiterwyk?
At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we have been representing injury victims in the greater Tampa area for over 25 years. Our dog bite injury attorneys have decades of combined experience, and have recovered millions in compensation for our clients’ losses. We know what it takes to successfully represent injury victims and their families, and we are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure that each of our clients has the opportunity to recover maximum compensation for his or her losses.
At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we offer:
- A Team of 50+ Legal Professionals – This includes over 10 attorneys whose practices are focused solely in the area of personal injury representation.
- A Trial–Ready Approach – While most of our clients receive settlements, we are fully prepared to take your case to trial if necessary.
- A Commitment to Client Service – We know what it is like to be traumatized by a dog attack, and we pledge to treat you accordingly. We are here when you need us, and we are happy to take your call.
- A Proven Track Record – Over the last 25 years, we have settled thousands of cases and helped numerous clients secure six, seven, and even eight-figure awards.
- A No–Fee Guarantee – Your initial consultation is completely free, and we will not charge you any legal fees unless we win your case.
Does Insurance Cover Dog Attacks?
If the person whose dog attacked you owns a home, his or her homeowner’s insurance policy most likely provides coverage for dog attack injuries. This is a standard inclusion in most policies, and in fact more than one-third of all homeowner’s insurance payouts go to compensating victims of dog bites and other attacks. At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we have had significant success securing insurance settlements for dog attack victims in the Tampa area.
If an insurance company contacts you, do not answer any questions or sign any documents until you have spoken to one of our attorneys.
You do not want to say anything that could harm your chances of securing a full financial recovery. When you hire us for your claim, we will deal with the insurance companies for you and make sure that you have all of the relevant information before you make any decisions about settling your claim.
Regardless of who owns the dog that attacked you, you owe it to yourself to stand up for your legal rights. It costs you nothing to speak with a dog attack attorney at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, so contact us to find out if you have a claim today.
Schedule a Free, No-Obligation Consultation at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk
To find out if you may be entitled to financial compensation for a dog attack in the Tampa area, contact Abrahamson & Uiterwyk to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We are available 24/7, so call (800) 753-5203, start a Live Chat to speak with a representative, or send us a message online now.