Lake City Dog Bite Lawyer
Animal attacks account for about a third of the homeowners’ insurance claims in Florida. The average per-claim value has increased substantially since 2008, largely because of higher medical expenses. Dog bites also cause substantial noneconomic injuries. Many victims experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-type symptoms after the attack, and only extended therapy improves this type of brain injury.
The diligent Lake City dog bite lawyers at Douglas & Douglas work hard for animal attack victims. This hard work includes collecting evidence which supports the victim/plaintiff’s claim and choosing the appropriate legal theory. In Florida, dog bite victims have several legal options. It’s important to choose the right one, because the wrong choice can cost victims thousands of dollars.
Florida Dog Bite Law
The Sunshine State has a limited strict liability law. Dog owners are liable for bite damages regardless of their fault. Victim/plaintiffs need only prove cause. Unfortunately, the knockdown often causes as much injury as the bite. These injuries include broken bones and head injuries. To obtain compensation for these wounds, victims have several legal options:
- Negligence: Essentially, negligence is a lack of ordinary care. For example, if a schoolteacher allows children to play with a strange dog, that act certainly demonstrates a lack of ordinary care.
- Scienter (Knowledge): If the owner or custodian knows that the animal is dangerous and the animal attacks someone, the owner or custodian may be liable for damages. Evidence of knowledge includes prior attacks on people or animals as well as growling, aggressive barking, baring teeth, and other such actions.
- Negligence Per Se: Lake City and most other municipalities in Florida have strict animal restraint laws. If the owner did not keep the animal fenced in or keep the animal on a leash, the owner may be liable for damages.
Sometimes, a third party may also be liable for damages. In the above negligence example, the school district would probably be legally obligated to pay compensation, because the schoolteacher is the district’s employee. Moreover, Florida landlords may also be liable for damages if they fail to enforce certain clauses in the leases.
Insurance Company Defenses in Lake City Dog Bite Cases
Because of the substantial compensation available, Florida insurance companies defend dog bite cases very aggressively. Whenever possible, they almost always use the provocation defense.
In this context, “provocation” means more than aggressive teasing or making sudden movements. Instead, provocation is inflicting so much pain upon the animal that a violent response is justified. Normally, provocation includes a series of events instead of a one-time poke.
“Beware of Dog” signs do not immunize owners from liability. However, much like the “No Lifeguard On Duty” signs in swimming pool injury claims, these signs make it easier to establish the assumption of the risk defense. For the defense to apply, the insurance company must prove that the victim could see the sign, read it, and understand what it meant. This showing is difficult to make if the victim was a child.
Rely on Aggressive Dog Bite Lawyers
Dog bites often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lake City, contact Douglas & Douglas. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.