What to Do After Being Bitten by A Dog in the State of Florida
Whether you’re a dog lover or not, the reality is that an estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur each year. Comparing that to the population of the United States, approximately 325.7 million people, that means 1 out of every 69 people will suffer from a dog bit this year alone. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you’re likely in pain and a bit shaken up, but understanding your rights after caring for your injury can help ease some of your discomfort.
First Things First
The most important thing after a dog bite is not only your well-being but also gathering the proper information. Here’s what you need to do the instant the dog bit occurs:
- Seek immediate medical treatment, and look for puncture wounds and more serious, deeper lacerations. You never know if a dog is up to date on their shots and vaccinations, especially rabies, and these types of wounds are prone to infection. If you’re able to, you or someone else should take photos of the wounds before they’re treated so that the damage done is properly documented.
- Exchange information with the owner or individual in possession of the dog at that time. Think of this step the same as you would a car accident. You’ll want to get their name, address, and other contact info like email addresses and phone numbers. Also try to verify the dog’s vaccination history at this time.
- Call animal control and file a report with them. This helps to prevent future dog bites, and any investigation they do can help later down the line for your own case.
- Look for any witnesses and get their contact information. Should you decide to pursue legal action, eyewitness testimony can help give a more detailed description of the incident and be majorly beneficial for your case.
Florida Dog Bite Laws and Statute of Limitations
If you’re planning to seek legal action after a dog bite incident in the state of Florida, it’s important to understand your rights.
Statute of Limitations
The first thing you’ll need to keep in mind is the statute of limitation for this type of case. In Florida, you have four years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit in the civil court system. After that period has passed, you will likely be barred from filing a lawsuit.
Florida Dog Bite Laws
Florida is a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bites. This means that a dog owner in the state of Florida may be held liable for their dog biting someone even if they had no prior indication or knowledge that the dog may bite, and regardless of if they could have done anything to prevent the bite from happening. The only factor that could change this is if the person who was bitten was trespassing or not legally allowed on the property.
Outside of trespassing, the dog owner may also be able to argue for comparative negligence in their defense. Comparative negligence is when the fault and/or negligence of the victim played a part in the incident and was partial cause for the injuries that occurred. For instance, if you’re in someone’s home and not paying attention to where you’re walking due to conversation or a television program and you step on the dog’s foot and the dog then bites you as a result. In court, a jury could find that you’re 40% responsible for the bite and that the owner is 60% responsible, reducing the amount of damages you could have received.
Being bitten by a dog is scary and stressful, and knowing what to do after the incident can be overwhelming. If you’ve been bitten by a dog and are thinking about taking legal action, reach out to Armour Law Group, Orlando Personal Injury Attorneys.