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Gainesville Dog Bite Lawyers

Dogs can provide people with the companionship they need, but they can also cause significant harm. A dog bite is not always a mere scratch—it can escalate to a severe wound, risking infections, lasting scars, and in extreme cases, disfigurement or even fatality. Such injuries require prompt medical attention and legal action.

At Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A., our seasoned dog bite attorneys can help you secure the compensation you deserve after a dog-related injury. With over 100 years of combined legal experience, we’re focused on helping you recover from the traumas of a dog attack. Based in Gainesville, FL we help dog bite victims in Alachua County and throughout Florida.

If a dog has bitten you or a loved one, it may be time to bring a claim for the injuries and the damages you’ve suffered. For a free consultation about your dog bite case, call our law firm or use our online contact form.

Can You Sue for a Dog Bite in Florida?

In the U.S., statistics reveal that 1 out of every 69 people are bitten by a canine. Fortunately, Florida dog bite victims have legal recourse. The state recognizes the severity of these injuries and holds dog owners accountable for the actions of their pets, regardless of the dog’s previous behavior.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of a dog attack in Florida, you’re entitled to pursue a claim for damages. It’s important, however, to understand your rights and the nuances of the state’s dog bite laws. At Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A., we’re well-versed in these regulations and are here to guide you every step of the way.

Proving a Dog Bite Claim in Florida

Under Florida state law, you’ll have to prove two things: your right to be at a location at the time of the bite, and that you didn’t cause the dog to bite you. When it comes to dog bites, Florida is a strict liability state, meaning dog owners are responsible for any injuries caused by their dog, even if they were not negligent.

Understanding the nuances of Florida’s dog bite laws is essential. Consult with our seasoned Gainesville dog bite lawyers to review your specific case and get guidance on the evidence you need to present.

Dogs Are the Owner’s Responsibility

In Florida, dog owners are held accountable for their pet’s actions. This responsibility is upheld by Florida’s dangerous dog law. Under this statute, a dog that has previously bitten someone without provocation, or shown signs of aggression, can be labeled as “dangerous”.

Once a dog is deemed dangerous, the owner is subject to stricter regulations to ensure the safety of others. Regardless of whether a dog is labeled as dangerous or not, owners have a duty to ensure their pets do not harm others.

Owner’s Negligence is Not an Excuse

Negligence on the part of the dog’s owner does not excuse them from liability. If a dog harms someone, saying “I didn’t know” or “It was an accident” will not absolve the owner of responsibility. Victims of dog bites have a right to seek compensation for their injuries, and an owner’s unawareness or inadvertence does not take away this right.

How Long Do You Have to File a Dog Bite Claim in Florida?

Florida’s statute of limitations gives you two years from the date of the dog bite to initiate a lawsuit. This action may cover both your physical and emotional injuries, as well as any property damage like ruined clothing. It’s important to act promptly; if you exceed this two-year window, you might forfeit your right to claim.

Common Types of Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bites can vary from minor to severe and can result in serious complications, especially if the dog hasn’t been vaccinated. In fact, the Center for Disease Control reports that nearly 800,000 Americans seek medical treatment for dog bite injuries each year.

At Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A., our team in Gainesville is experienced in representing victims with varied dog bite injuries, including:

  • Lacerations
  • Fractures
  • Tissue damage
  • Head trauma
  • Neck injuries
  • Complications from crushing force
  • Infections
  • Amputations
  • Spinal injuries
  • Back issues
  • Neurological effects
  • Joint issues
  • Paralysis
  • Severe trauma
  • Wrongful death

Dog bites are a danger at any age, but children often suffer the most. A small child is no match for a grown dog. If your child is attacked by a dog, the child may be left with life-long pain, disfigurement, and scars that can shape every part of their future. In the most severe attacks, children and even adults can be mauled to death by a dog.

Compensation for a Dog Bite in Florida

If you’re a victim of a dog bite in Florida, you may be eligible for various compensations:

Medical Costs: Covering treatments like stitches, antibiotics, and therapy. Severe bites can cause lasting damage and may require extended care.

Lost Wages: Compensation for work missed during recovery and potential future earning disruptions due to the injury.

Pain and Suffering: Dog bites can result in long-term physical pain and emotional trauma, including anxiety. Your claim can address these damages.

Property Damage: For personal items like clothing or electronics damaged during the attack.

These types of compensation and others may be available in a dog bite claim. If you have questions about compensation in your case, contact a Gainesville dog bite attorney at Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A. today for a free consultation.

Common Defenses to Dog Bite Claims

In Florida, those who are defending against a dog bite claim will usually base their defense on where the bite took place and what role you played in the bite. In Florida, the prior history of the dog doesn’t matter. The owner can be liable even in cases where the dog had no prior history of biting.

Where the bite took place is an important consideration in a dog bite claim. Under Florida law, you must lawfully be on the property where the bite happened. This could be a public place or a business, or it could be as a guest on private property. If you were trespassing on the property when the bite happened, you may not be able to get compensation from the owner or others who were responsible.

What if You Provoked the Dog?

In Florida, if you’ve provoked a dog leading to a bite, you’re not automatically barred from seeking compensation as the state follows a comparative negligence rule. Even if you’re partially at fault, you can still pursue a claim as long as you’re not found to be the majority at fault.

However, if the plaintiff is more than 50% responsible for a dog bite accident, they will not be eligible for any compensation. It’s important to have clear proof that shows what happened before and during the bite to ensure you recover the damages you’re entitled to.

How a Lawyer Can Help with a Dog Bite Claim

Dog bite situations can be sensitive, especially when the victim is familiar with the dog or its owner. Often, homeowners’ insurance or other liability insurance will cover the claim, so there’s no financial burden on the dog owner, be it your friend or family member.

A lawyer can handle any discussions with those responsible throughout the claim process. After an injury, an experienced dog bite lawyer can help you by:

Gathering essential evidence about your injury and what led to it.

This may include police reports, witness statements, medical reports, and other important documents. A dog bite lawyer will track down and collect everything your case needs.

Determining who is liable for your injuries.

Beyond the dog’s owner, other parties like boarding facilities, caregivers, or property owners where the incident occurred might also be liable for your injuries.

Determining how much compensation you may be entitled to.

Based on the severity of your injuries and comparative settlements, your lawyer can estimate how much compensation you may be entitled to recover damages. This may cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Negotiating a Settlement

After you file an injury claim, your lawyer can present a compelling case to ensure a fair agreement is reached. They will consider both evidence and policy liabilities as they work to negotiate a settlement.

Managing Your Case Through Trial

While most personal injury cases never go to court, yours could if the owner’s insurance refuses to cover your injury or pay appropriate compensation. A Gainesville personal injury lawyer can handle everything your case needs in court and will advocate for you every step of the way.

Discussing the injury with the dog’s owner and negotiating with their insurance company to get you the compensation you need.

You may know the owner of the dog, and you may not want to disrupt your relationship with them. There may be ways for you to get compensation from their insurance company without costing the owner any money out-of-pocket. A lawyer can work to find your compensation while protecting the relationships you value.

Who Pays for a Dog Bite Claim in Florida?

In Florida, multiple parties might be accountable for dog bite claims:

Dog Owners: Even if the owner is someone familiar, like a friend or relative, you could receive compensation without burdening the owner financially. This is often because homeowners’ insurance or other relevant insurance policies cover such incidents.

Insurance Policies: Depending on the bite’s context, homeowners’ insurance, commercial liability policies, or other types of insurance might cover your injuries. These policies can be a significant source of your compensation.

Caretakers and Other Responsible Parties: If someone other than the owner was overseeing the dog when the bite occurred, that caretaker might bear liability. This extends to any individual or organization in charge of the dog at the time.

While there is no turning back the clock and preventing the attack, a dog bite lawyer can help you fight for your rights and for the compensation you need. If you’ve suffered a dog bite, contact our Florida dog bite lawyers for a free initial consultation about your case.