For many people, the fear of dogs is largely propelled by the fear of getting bitten or having experienced a dog bite in the past. According to recent data, over 4.5 million people suffer a dog bite injury every year, and 800,000 of those individuals seek medical attention for their dog bites.
Dog bites are understandably scary, especially if the bite was unprovoked. Understanding what to do if you suffer a dog bite injury and what compensation you may be entitled to can help you recover some of the losses you experience following a dog bite. While the mental toll following a dog bite can be complex to unravel, our team can help you recover the compensation you deserve following a dog bite injury.
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Work with the team at Bernstein & Maryanoff and speak with an experienced Miami dog bite lawyer about your case.
What to do if you’ve suffered a dog bite injury
Knowing what to do after a dog bite can help you reduce the chances of infection and other complications. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, it’s important to stop the bleeding as quickly as you can by applying direct pressure to the wound.
Next, contact 911 or seek medical attention to assess and address the wound. A medical professional will wash the wound, apply an antibacterial ointment, and sterilize the area for bandage application. In extreme cases where bones have been broken or ligaments have been torn, surgery may be required to repair the damage. In all cases, you should receive a tetanus shot if you have not had one in the past ten years. A tetanus shot will typically be administered within 72 hours after the bite.
Unfortunately, children are the most vulnerable to dog attacks because of their small size. Because of this, they are the most common victims of dog bite attacks. It’s important that if your young child sustains a dog bite, you seek medical care immediately.
Finally, filing a personal injury lawsuit after a dog bite injury can be a useful step in helping you recover financially after the event. A personal injury lawsuit can help you recover damages associated with medical bills, your pain and suffering, and more.
Who is liable for a dog bite injury?
Florida has some of the most stringent laws when it comes to dog bite regulations. As a strict liability state, a dog’s owner is held liable for the injuries and pain and suffering an individual may experience after a dog bite, as outlined in Florida’s Dog Bite Statute 767.04.
This applies whether the dog bite occurs on public property, or private property, such as the homeowner’s residence. However, any negligence on the part of the person who was bitten may lower the liability of the dog’s owner. For example, if an individual trespasses on a person’s property or is otherwise on that private property unlawfully, the owner’s level of liability significantly decreases.
Under comparative negligence, if a victim is found to be responsible for their injury, the percentage of their responsibility will be deducted from the total compensation they might be awarded following a claim.
Dog bite liability and homeowners insurance
In addition to seeking compensation from the dog owner, some dog bite victims may also be able to seek compensation from an individual’s homeowners insurance company.
A homeowner’s insurance will typically cover payment associated with the liability of a dog bite injury. However, not all insurances operate alike. Some homeowner insurance companies will not offer coverage if a homeowner has a specific breed of dog, like a Rottweiler or Pitbull. Other homeowners insurance companies will charge a higher premium so as to protect against liability.
Additionally, if a homeowner has a “Beware of Dog” sign on their property, this can reduce their liability. Exemptions do exist in cases where a victim is age six or under. In these cases, strict liability applies.
Average settlement for dog bites
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average cost of a dog bite settlement was just over $49,000 in 2021. Of course, the more severe a dog bite injury is, the more compensation a claim might seek. In extreme cases, settlements can be anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 after considering all the associated medical costs and pain and suffering a victim endures. In extreme cases where a dog bite injury leads to a fatality, the cost of a wrongful death lawsuit can be much higher.
What recoverable damages can victims seek?
Victims are able to seek both economic and non-economic damages after suffering a dog bite.
These refer to the tangible and calculable losses the victim sustained. Examples of economic damage can include but are not limited to the following:
- Medical services – One of the main components of the compensation sought in dog bite claims is medical bills. This includes all medical services you received due to the dog bite attack: on-site treatment by responding EMT officials, bills associated with ambulance services and emergency treatment, and any hospital treatment you’ve received. Following a dog bite, it may also be necessary to receive tetanus or rabies shots or surgical procedures due to scarring or disfigurement. This can also be included in damages.
- Current and future medical bills – Dog bite victims can quickly rack up tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Plaintiffs can seek recovery of these expenses for both current and anticipated future medical needs as well. This includes physical therapy, occupational therapy, and any ongoing services associated with your medical healing.
- Lost wages and reduced earning capacity – If a dog attack has left you unable to work or go back to work, you can sue for lost wages and reduced earning capacity. Lost wages refer to the wages you lose because of the time it takes you to recover. In the event the dog bite leaves you with debilitating injuries that no longer allow you to continue working, you can sue for reduced earning capacity.
Other economic damages can include:
- Property loss
- Cost of trauma/therapy services
- Cost of medical devices associated with the injury
- Other calculable losses
These damages refer to the losses that are difficult/impossible to calculate. They are meant to compensate you for your suffering following the event and can include the following:
- Pain and suffering – This is the bulk of compensatory non-economic damages. Pain and suffering refers to the physical and mental pain that results from a dog bite. It’s not possible to measure the pain felt after an attack, but non-economic damages are designed to compensate you for this.
- Mental anguish and trauma – If you’ve suffered mental anguish, emotional trauma, soreness, and other physical pain as a result of the bite attack or medical services following the bite attack, you may be able to seek compensation.
Do personal injury lawyers help in a dog bite claim?
If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite attack, filing a personal injury lawsuit is an avenue worth considering. Personal injury lawsuits can be filed against a dog’s owner and any other liable parties, including the private and public property owners where the dog attack occurred. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine who the responsible parties are, as well as help you build a strong case against them.
A successful personal injury lawsuit will help you recover compensation for your medical bills, physical pain and suffering, personal losses, and other losses associated with the dog bite injury.
Speak with a dog bite injury lawyer
An attorney who has experience working with victims of dog biting attacks can help you file a dog bite personal injury lawsuit on behalf of you or a loved one. At Bernstein & Maryanoff, our dog bite injury attorneys are committed to helping you seek the compensation you deserve.
NO FEES UNLESS WE WIN
Protecting Your Rights Since 1983
Contact our experienced dog bite injury attorneys today to speak with a team member about your case.
Comparative Negligence. (2022).
Spotlight on DogBite Liability. (2022).
U.S. Statistics on Dog Bites 2021. (2023).
About the Author
Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.
Jack Bernstein is a hard-working and highly motivated personal injury attorney in Miami, Florida with over three decades of experience. He is a strategist and idea person, with a genuine passion for helping his firm’s clients. If you’ve been injured, contact Jack Bernstein today for a free evaluation of your case.