Most dog owners act responsibly and train and restrain their dogs to ensure they don’t scare or hurt other people or animals. However, this isn’t always the case. An owner’s negligence can sometimes lead to a dog bite or attack, resulting in severe physical and psychological injuries and costly medical care.
Owners often fight aggressively to avoid liability after their dog attacks or attempt to trivialize the severity of the victim’s injuries. If you are a dog attack victim, our Estero dog bite attorneys will work with you to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Contact us for a free case review today.
Proving Liability in an Estero Dog Bite Case
In Florida, dog owners are responsible for ensuring their dog is not a danger to others and are liable for any attacks on public or private property and damages suffered by those who are bitten. However, the victim may be partially responsible for the attack if they provoked the dog, were trespassing on the owner’s property, or if the owner posted a sign warning others of the dog.
To prove an owner was liable for injuries you or a loved one sustained in an attack, you and your attorney must establish the following:
- The owner owed you a duty of care to ensure their animal did not cause you harm.
- The owner breached or violated this duty of care
- The owner’s breach of duty was the probable cause of the dog attack and your injuries
- You incurred financial and personal losses as a result of the attack
If an owner’s liability is legally proven, the dog bite victim may be entitled to any of the following damages:
- Medical bills, including emergency care, hospitalization, doctor’s visits, surgery, rehab, mental health care, prescription medication, etc.
- Lost wages due to missed work and diminished future earning capacity
- Loss of companionship
- Long-term disability and disfigurement
- Loss of quality and enjoyment of life
- Physical pain and suffering
Dog bite victims can also recover damages for therapy or counseling to treat psychological trauma that can continue to persist long after the attack.
An Estero dog bite lawyer can help you add up your quantifiable damages and place a reasonable value on personal losses, such as pain and suffering.
Filing a Claim Against the Owner’s Homeowner’s or Renter’s Insurance
If a dog bit you on another person’s property, you may be able to file a claim with their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. If the insurer denies your claim or undercuts the value of your injuries, a dog bite lawyer can try to negotiate a fair settlement. Still, you may be compelled to file a personal injury lawsuit if that doesn’t work.
Of note, if the dog owner doesn’t have insurance and isn’t a homeowner, you may be able to file a claim against the landlord’s insurance, but you must prove that negligence on the landlord’s part was the cause of the dog attack.
Dog Leash Law in Estero and Lee County
In Lee County, owners must have a leash on their dogs and have them under control when they are outside. It’s unlawful for domestic animals to roam outdoors in public areas or on private property without the property owner’s consent.
According to Lee County law, dogs that are outside under the above conditions “must wear a specifically manufactured and properly fitted collar or harness for purposes of attended, temporary tethering for recreational purposes.”
The Lee County law also states that a dog must be “within immediate and continuous physical control of its owner at all times, such as by means of a fence, leash not to exceed 8 feet in length, cord, or chain of sufficient strength to restrain said animal.”
In Florida, dogs classified as dangerous must be on a leash and be muzzled. A dangerous dog must not be permitted “outside a proper enclosure unless [its] muzzle is restrained by a substantial chain or leash and under control of a competent person.”
A dangerous dog is defined as having a record of aggressively biting, attacking, or endangering and severely injuring a person in a public or private place. It also includes unprovoked dogs that have chased or approached a person in public places in a threatening manner.
Common Estero Dog Bite Victims and Injuries
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), children are the most common victims of dog bites and are most likely to be severely injured. Most children are bitten by familiar dogs during normal daily activities.
Each year, according to the Florida Department of Health, children aged 1-9 are at the highest risk for dog bites, boys more so than girls. Children this age are also more likely to receive bites to the head or neck than other age groups.
In Florida, more than 600 residents are hospitalized yearly due to dog bites. Common injuries and diseases associated with dog attacks include the following:
- Nerve damage
- Broken bones
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Torn ligaments and muscles
- Deep flesh wounds
According to an American Family Physician article, 15-20% of dog bites become infected with bacteria. Common infections include Pasteurella, MRSA, and tetanus. Rabies, although relatively uncommon, is a severe disease that can be fatal if not identified and treated promptly.
How an Estero Dog Bite Attorney Can Help
Our attorneys will work with dog attack victims to establish liability on the dog owner’s part and support your case by doing the following:
- Collecting information about the time, location, and details of the attack
- Collecting evidence of the attack, including photos of injuries or eyewitness reports
- Investigating any previous aggressive behavior or if the dog was classified as dangerous
- Determining if the dog was vaccinated against certain diseases, including rabies
- Proving the owner let the animal wander off private property without proper leasing or control, thereby violating the law
The time to act is now as Florida Statutes § 95.11 states you only have three years from the time of the incident to pursue legal action. One of our lawyers will be able to help you navigate the legal process and file a claim before it’s too late.
Consult With an Estero Dog Bite Lawyer Today
If you or someone you love is a dog bite victim, we urge you to schedule a consultation with GED Lawyers as soon as possible. Our Estero dog bite attorneys will fight on your behalf to prove fault on the dog owner’s part to recover the maximum compensation available to you for your injuries and losses. Contact us today to learn more and to begin pursuing the justice you deserve.