Average Dog Bite Settlement Amounts in Florida
This article attempts to explain the factors that influence the amount that dog bite victims can get in Florida settlement.
Being bitten by a dog is a traumatic experience, no matter how minor the bite is. If you are bringing a claim against the dog owner, you may be wondering what your possible compensation might be.
Unfortunately, there is no standard range of Florida dog bite settlement amounts. Every case is different and evaluated individually. Even dog bites with similar circumstances won’t settle for the same amount. To learn more about what your case is worth, speak with an experienced Florida dog bite attorney at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk.
Our dedicated legal team has decades of experience representing injured Florida clients just like you for all their personal injury needs, including dog bites. These cases can be complicated to pursue, which is why you need a knowledgeable attorney representing you.
Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation in our Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, New Port Richey, Spring Hill, or Lakeland office.
Recent Dog Bite Case
Our client, an 88-year-old grandmother enjoying her retirement in the Sunshine State, was walking her small dog on the sidewalk in her apartment complex when a large pit-bull leapt through the open window of a neighboring apartment and charged her. The pit-bull immediately attacked the client’s dog, and when our client attempted to pick her dog up, the pit-bull turned its attention to her. The pit-bull bit our client on the leg several times which resulted in several large gashes and a complex fracture of her leg. The brutal attack was only stopped after witnesses rushed to our client’s aid.
Following the attack, our client was rushed to the hospital by ambulance where emergency surgery was performed to clean and close her open wounds and to set her fractured leg. Our client then spent two days in the hospital to receive intravenous before being discharged to the care of an orthopedic doctor. The orthopedic doctor prescribed home healthcare for physical therapy and wound care. The bite marks from the attack left permanent disfiguring scarring and our client was forced to walk with a cane.
Our law firm pursued the insurance company for the owner of the pit-bull. We were able to convince them to pay their entire policy limits of $100,000. In an effort to get more compensation for our client, we explored responsibility for the dog bite from the apartment complex. It was our position that the apartment complex had allowed a dangerous dog to reside on their property even though there had been prior complaints about the pit-bull’s aggressive behavior. The apartment complex denied liability for the attack and our firm promptly instigated a lawsuit against the apartment complex, which is still ongoing at this time.
Liability for Dog Bites in Florida
Dog owners can be held liable in both civil and criminal court when their dog attacks someone. Florida is what’s known as a “strict liability” state. That means that the law holds dog owners liable when their dog bites someone, even if the owner was not aware their dog is aggressive.
Under strict liability, victims do not have to prove a dog owner’s negligence caused their injuries. What you need to show is that the dog bit you in either a public space or private property you were lawfully on.
In the event your injuries occurred differently, there is still a chance you could hold the dog owner liable. However, you would need to show the dog owner acted negligently or did not use reasonable care.
Florida’s Dangerous Dog Statute
Dog bite laws in Florida include a dangerous dog statute. Under the law, if a dog is declared dangerous, the owner must abide by specific rules and take certain precautions to protect others from the dangerous dog. Failure to adhere to these rules could result in criminal charges against the owner for any injuries their dog causes.
Here are some of the rules owners of dangerous dogs must follow:
- The owner must register the dog with local authorities;
- The owner must keep the dog in an enclosed and secure location; and
- The owner must always ensure the dog has a harness and muzzle anytime it leaves the secure location.
A dog is declared dangerous if it’s previously bitten or aggressively attacked someone causing injury. Even if it was only an attempted attack, the dog could be declared dangerous. Any dog that has aggressively approached or chased someone could also be declared dangerous.
Dogs that have seriously injured or killed other animals multiple times also fall under the category of dangerous dogs. If a dangerous dog caused your injuries, let Abrahamson & Uiterwyk help you get the compensation you deserve.
Defenses to Dog Bite Liability
Dog owners have several defenses available that could reduce or even eliminate their liability altogether. Possible defenses include:
- The plaintiff provoked the dog;
- The plaintiff was not on the property lawfully; or
- The dog perceived a threat and was protecting its owner or someone else in the area.
In the case of a dangerous dog, the owner might not be liable if they had proper precautions in place, including warning signs. However, don’t assume that the dog owner isn’t responsible based on these possible defenses without speaking with a Florida dog bite attorney first.
Potential Compensation in a Florida Dog Bite Case
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could be eligible to collect monetary damages for:
- Medical expenses to date;
- Future medical expenses including cosmetic surgery and scar revision surgery;
- Lost wages;
- Future loss of earning capacity;
- Physical pain and suffering; and
- Emotional distress.
To maximize your potential dog attack lawsuit settlement amount, you need an attorney who has ample experience with these claims. The amount of your compensation is often directly linked with the skill of your attorney.
The Florida dog bite attorneys at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk have years of experience litigating these types of claims. We will work tirelessly to fight for the maximum compensation possible.
Why You Need an Attorney to Represent You in a Dog Bite Case
You might assume dog bite claims quickly resolve if they fall under Florida’s strict liability law. However, these claims are not simple to pursue. There are often coverage questions, with some homeowner insurance companies refusing to extend coverage in a dog bite case.
In addition, many homeowner policies already exclude certain breeds of dogs that are deemed dangerous. The dog owner needs to ask whether their insurance company offers coverage for an additional premium and conditions.
Even in dog bite cases where coverage and liability are not at issue, proving damages can be challenging. We may need to retain experts who will testify about what type of future treatment you will need. Many dog bite victims require additional surgeries and may be left with significant scarring or disfigurement.
The dog owner’s insurance will look for any way possible to reduce their exposure and potential payout. That is why we hire experts who can refute low Florida dog bite settlement amounts offered by insurance companies.
Contact a Florida Dog Bite Attorney Today
If you are the victim of a dog bite in Florida, don’t go through the arduous legal process alone. Instead, let our experienced legal team help. We have helped many of our clients get the compensation they deserve in personal injury cases.
Contact Abrahamson & Uiterwyk today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We have conveniently located offices in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, New Port Richey, Spring Hill, and Lakeland. Let us review your case and advise you on the best course of action to help you maximize your potential dog bite case settlement.