Dogs make great pets, but even little ones have teeth that are sharp enough to tear skin and leave lasting physical and emotional scars. If you’re a dog lover, it’s understandable to resist acknowledging that somewhere deep down, every dog has a natural instinct to bite, chew, or hunt. There’s a ton of research on the root causes of violent behavior from our beloved pets. Regardless of the “why,” someone has to take responsibility for the injuries their dog inflicts on others, and those that are injured deserve compensation. Dog bites in personal injury cases don’t exactly work the same way as a car accident would. So if you’re a dog owner or at least live in proximity to them, you need to be aware of your rights and obligations.
Dogs Are Pets And Property
If you love dogs, you might consider them family. They have big personalities and develop real emotional attachments to their owners, but at the end of the day, they’re legally a type of asset. It might be hard to imagine because they have a mind of their own, and you may question just how valuable they actually are at times, but they’re still property for which owners are responsible.
As a result, if your pet (property) injures someone, the personal injury claim would defer to the homeowner’s insurance plan. Not many people realize it, but you’re supposed to include your pets in your insurance policy. Depending on which jurisdiction you live in, you may need to have a license to own pets like cats and dogs or at least register that they are up-to-date on vaccinations. This ensures the safety of the community and also links pets to their owners if an incident occurs.
Florida follows the concept of strict liability. It’s applicable in both civil and criminal law, and holds a defendant accountable for their actions regardless of their intention at the time of the action. This rule also applies to dog owners. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you’re not obligated to prove the owner is negligent. Under the framework of strict liability, there is an assumption that dogs are inherently dangerous even if they’ve never previously shown aggressive behavior.
There are often exceptions to this rule, however. For example, if someone is trespassing on the dog owner’s property at the time of the bite, the owner may not be liable. It could be argued that the dog was serving its purpose as a protector. More often than not, people like delivery personnel and mail carriers have a reason to be on the property, so dog owners should still take appropriate precautions to avoid causing harm.
Immediate Actions for Victims of Dog Bites
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you have the right to hold the appropriate parties liable and recover damage compensation. Just like in a car accident, there are several steps you need to take to protect yourself and your health.
Get to safety – Aggressive dogs can be unpredictable. Don’t hesitate to defend yourself or seek immediate shelter to avoid potentially life-threatening injuries.
Go to the hospital immediately – Bites that seem minor can lead to serious infections. Dogs can be carriers of fatal diseases like rabies. Once symptoms develop in humans, the virus is 100% fatal. Even if the dog doesn’t seem rabid or sick, don’t take any chances and get preventative vaccines at the hospital right away.
Report to Animal Control – Reporting the incident to animal control initiates an investigation into the bite. If the dog is considered dangerous, appropriate measures such as quarantine or euthanization may be taken to prevent further harm.
Talk to Your Attorney – Of course, you need to get in touch with your lawyer–that’s me–to get to work on obtaining the compensation you deserve.
Depending on the circumstances, it might not be easy to track down the owner of the dog and get their insurance information. Sometimes, people just don’t want to take responsibility, but that’s why you need an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your rights in the aftermath of a dog bite. At the Law Office of Ashley M. Armstrong, P.L.L.C., we’re here to guide you through this traumatic situation. If you’re attacked by a dog, call (850) 977-3229 as soon as you can, so we can get to work.
The Law Office of Attorney Ashley M. Armstrong, PLLC
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