What To Do If You Are Bitten By a Dog

A dog biting an arm

If you are bitten by a dog or some other pet belonging to a neighbor, family member, friend or even a stranger, it usually is the responsibility of the pet’s owner to pay your medical bills and other expenses.  However, it may help to have the advice of a personal injury attorney if you are facing any type of animal bite case.

What Does Florida Law Say About Dog Bites?

Florida law specifically references dogs in Section 767.04, although animal bites could theoretically come from any pet.  In part, this statute states:

“The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.”

Clearly, this law is intended to establish two important points:  first, that the owner is liable for the dog’s behavior regardless of whether the dog has bitten before; and secondly, that a victim must be lawfully on the property.  This protects property owners from lawsuits filed by burglars, for example, who were breaking into a house and were bitten by a dog.

The statute goes on to say, however, that negligence on the part of the victim can reduce the liability of the owner.  If the victim was deliberately agitating the dog, for example, the owner might claim that the victim should have known better and contributed to his or her own injuries.  Further, the law states that hanging a prominent sign including the words “Bad Dog” is sufficient to warn others of the danger of a dog that may bite.

People other than the dog’s owner can also be liable.  For example, if a landlord knows that a tenant has a dog that could be vicious, the landlord could be held liable if that dog attacks someone.

What Should I Do If I Am Bitten By a Dog?

Most of the time, joggers, cyclists, and other fast-moving people are prone to attack. This fast movement often triggers a dog’s chase instinct or they may consider an area there’s and if you trespass on their property, they may try to protect it. Here are some tips on how to avoid or mitigate a dog bite attack.

Don’t Panic

Many people believe that dogs can sense fear. Well, it’s not that they sense fear, it’s just that they become more confident when they see that their prey is intimidated. So try to stay calm. If the dog sees that it can’t scare you, it might think you’re a dangerous person to mess with.

Don’t try to run

Dog’s can outrun people. Accept this fact and don’t try to run away. Secondly, running will provoke the dog’s instinct to chase, so you might escalate the problem by attempting to run.

Stand still

If you were running, slow down and then stop completely. Most likely the dog saw you as a threat when you were moving fast. So, if you stop moving, chances are the dog will lose interest in you and walk away. Also, it’s better to stand sideways to the dog. This way you will appear slimmer. Which means you’re less of a threat.

Don’t make eye contact

Direct eye contact may make the dog more aggressive. It may be a reason for an attack. Your best course of action is to keep the dog in sight, but avoid direct eye contact. This will signal to the dog that you are not dangerous and it can let you go unharmed.

Make fists

By making fists you’ll protect your fingers from getting bitten off.

Distract the dog with another object

If you have something in your hand through it in another direction, it can be a bottle of water, your bag, or anything else. If you have nothing, you are ready to throw it away. Pretend that you were picking something up from the ground and throwing it far away. Distracting the dog might give you the necessary time to escape.

fight back

If the dog starts biting you, you’ll have to do all it takes to protect yourself. Try to hit the dog and the nose and the throat or the back of the head. A good smack may give you the time to escape.

Protect Your Face and Neck

Whatever it takes. Don’t let the dog get to your vital parts, your neck, or your face. If you do, you won’t be able to protect yourself anymore. Trying to put something between you and the dog like that mailman over there. Anyways, use your weight to press the dog against the ground. Its only weapon is its mouth full of teeth. Try to avoid that and if you manage to keep safe from that, you will win the fight. Your goal is to immobilize the hair. You can do that by pressing the dog’s neck. Okay. Let’s say that you show the dog who is boss. It gets scared and runs away. What should you do after

After the Attack, See a Doctor

Even the smallest wound may be an open door for infection. Use water to wash the wound and a bandage to stop the bleeding. See a doctor even if you don’t think you should. The dog might be rabid, so a series of shots might be required.

Report the Dog

You must investigate quickly to determine the legal owner of the dog. You should also report the dog bite to the police. The police will do a report and contact animal control. If the dog isn’t properly registered or vaccinated, animal control will attempt to capture the dog to evaluate its health. It is important to get photos of the dog and the dog owner’s home to show whether or not there are any dog warning signs.

In addition to seeking medical help, you should also seek the help of an attorney experienced in handling dog bite cases.  Contact the dog bite attorneys at Bernstein & Maryanoff in Miami if you have been the victim of an animal bite.

About the Author

attorney Jack Bernstein standing in front of a blurred background

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.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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