Americans love their pets. In fact, pet ownership has increased in the United States over the last few decades to a point where more than two-thirds of American homes have at least one pet. Dogs are particularly popular, and 53% of American homes have dogs. In Florida, 56% of households have a pet. Although many people consider their pets to be members of their families, sometimes these domesticated animals will attack or bite. Statistics indicate that about 4.5 million dog bites take place every year in the United States. Out of that total, around 800,000 will require medical attention. There are many reasons why dogs bite, including if they are scared, protecting themselves or their owner, sick, startled, playing too roughly, or in an otherwise stressful situation. Some dog breeds are more likely to cause severe injuries in the case of a bite. One of the most likely dogs to bite is a Chihuahua, and yet because of their small size, those bites are unlikely to lead to fatal results. Still, a small dog can cause serious injuries requiring stitches and leading to scarring and disfigurement.
Sadly, victims of dog bites are often children. Children tend not to know how to approach a dog, and their small size makes them more vulnerable to serious injuries. If you or a family member sustained injuries resulting from a dog bite, you might be entitled to recover damages from that dog’s owner. Call the Durham Law Group at 813-333-6250 to discuss your claim with a dedicated Tampa dog bite attorney.
Dog Owner Liability in Dog Bite Claims in Tampa
When it comes to dog bites, Florida maintains a strict liability policy. This means that if a dog bites a person, the owner will be held liable under certain circumstances, even if that owner has no prior knowledge of that dog behaving aggressively. Strict liability will apply if the victim was in a public place or if the person the dog bit was on private property with permission. For instance, if the dog bites an individual who is a guest in the owner’s house, strict liability would apply.
Even if the above circumstances do not apply, victims might be able to make a claim based on negligence. Negligence applies when a person does not behave in a way that a reasonable person would in the same circumstances. Negligence per se applies if the owner violates a public safety-related statue. Such could be the case if a dog attacked because it was not on a leash in a location where leashes were mandatory. Once a dog has bitten someone, the owner knows that the dog is potentially dangerous. In such cases, it will be easier to hold that individual liable for injuries caused by that animal. There are also cases in which a dog bite might be considered a form of battery. If the owner trains the dog to attack and uses that animal to intentionally cause harm, an attack will be considered an intentional tort.
In some situations, dogs can be considered dangerous animals, and the owner of that animal may face criminal charges if their dog attacks. Dogs designated dangerous animals are those that have aggressively bitten or attacked a person, killed or seriously injured other animals on more than one occasion, or aggressively chased or approached people without provocation.
Injuries Caused by Dog Attacks
Dogs often cause injuries to victims’ legs and arms, head, neck, and torso. Some of the results of those bites include fractured bones and infections, including blood poisoning. Many hospitalizations are the result of serious infections resulting from the initial bite. Individuals who suffer severe dog bites can end up owing tens of thousands of dollars in medical costs and hospital bills as a result of those injuries.
Likely Defenses Used in Dog Bite Claims
Owners of dogs often claim that the individual injured by their pet was provoking the animal. This is one defense that will often be used to either avoid liability or at least reduce the damages owed to the injured individual. If you were bit by a dog and the court finds that you were partly responsible for provoking the animal, the damage might be reduced to reflect your share of liability. Other possible examples of defenses include if the victim was trespassing on the property or if the dog viewed the person as a threat to the owner or itself.
Issues surrounding dog bite attacks and potential defenses can become complicated. It is important to discuss your claim with an experienced Tampa, Florida dog bite attorney.
Call the Durham Law Group Today After an Animal Bite Injury in Tampa
At the Durham Law Group, our Tampa dog bite attorneys have experience representing individuals injured by aggressive dogs in Florida. Call us today at 813-333-6250 to learn how we can help you recover following injuries caused by an animal attack.