Winning Dog Bite Injury Cases In Florida
Over the last ten years, the average dog bite insurance settlement has almost doubled. Doctors better understand the severe physical and emotional wounds these attacks cause. The physical wounds usually include surface wounds, like severe lacerations and broken bones. Deeper physical wounds, like internal organ injuries and head injuries, are common as well. Emotionally, many dog bite victims, especially young victims, must deal with ongoing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Payouts have increased, but insurance companies do not simply give this money away. Instead, an assertive Tampa personal injury lawyer must fight for it in court. This fight, like all other fights, begins with extensive preparation and training. With the groundwork in place, an attorney is well-positioned to obtain maximum compensation for your serious injuries. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may also be available, in some extreme cases.
Building a Case
Typically, dog bite laws balance the interests of dog bite victims who need compensation and dog owners who see broad dog bite laws as pet ownership penalties. So, Florida is a hodgepodge of several different laws and theories, such as:
- Strict Liability: Even if they don’t know their animals are potentially dangerous, animal owners in Florida are strictly liable for bite injuries. This law doesn’t apply to broken bones and other knockdown injuries. Furthermore, strict liability, or automatic liability, is limited by the provocation defense.
- Scienter (Knowledge): Owners who know their dogs are potentially dangerous and fail to restrain them are liable for all animal attack injuries. Evidence of knowledge sometimes includes prior attacks. Pre-bite behavior, like aggressive barking and running off a leash, is better evidence.
- Negligence Per Se: Tampa and surrounding communities usually have strict animal control ordinances, like leash laws and fence laws. The state has similar laws that apply to all Floridians. If an owner violates such a law, it’s easier for a Tampa personal injury attorney to prove negligence, or a lack of care.
Victim/plaintiffs must prove all the facts in a case, like knowledge of viciousness, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.
Provocation, which was mentioned above, may be the most common defense in all animal attack claims. In the everyday world, sudden movements and loud noises could be provocative. But in a court of law, provocation has a much more limited meaning.
Basically, provocation is a physical and intentional act. Aggressive teasing doesn’t legally provoke dogs. Only torturing a dog is legally sufficient. Additionally, children under age 7 usually cannot for the intent to provoke a dog, at least from a legal perspective.
Assumption of the risk could come up as well. For the most part, Hillsborough County civil courts no longer recognize this defense. But a “Beware of Dog” or other such warning sign essentially creates a contract between the victim and owner.
This contract only holds up in court if the victim voluntarily assumes a known risk. So, an insurance company lawyer must prove the victim saw the sign, could read the sign, and could understand what that sign meant.
Count on a Diligent Hillsborough County Attorney
Injury victims are entitled to important financial benefits. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Tampa, contact Kobal Law. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.