St. Petersburg Dog Bite Lawyer

Although many dogs are friendly, incidents of dog attacks can happen. With that being said, dog bites can be severe, and even lead to permanent disfigurement or disabilities. Holding the dog’s owner responsible for the actions of their pet is often important, but it can be challenging at times. That’s where St. Petersburg dog bite attorneys come in.

If you were bitten by a dog, an experienced St. Petersburg dog bite lawyer at our law firm may be able to recover compensation for you. With over 25 years of combined experience, our lawyers have helped accident victims recover millions of dollars in compensation, so we’re more than ready to protect your legal rights. 

Why Choose Our St. Petersburg Dog Bite Lawyers?

How Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys Can Help After a Dog Bite in St. Petersburg

If you were a victim of severe dog bite injuries, you deserve to be compensated. An experienced St. Petersburg dog bite attorney may help improve your chances of getting the money you deserve.

At Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys, our award-winning lawyers have been rated as Top 40 under 40 Personal Injury Lawyers and as America’s Top Attorneys. When you trust us with your case, you can count on us to:

  • Gather the evidence to support your case
  • Calculate the fair value of your personal injury claim
  • Hire experts and specialists when needed to strengthen your case
  • Protect you if the owner blames you for provoking the dog
  • Handle all insurance negotiations and communications

Our St. Petersburg dog bite lawyers are always available to discuss your case. To learn more about how you can benefit from an attorney-client relationship, get in touch with one of our law offices as soon as possible.

How Common Are Dog Bites in St. Petersburg?

Approximately 4.5 million Americans suffer dog bites annually, according to the CDC. Of these victims, a concerning 800,000 require medical attention. Children are disproportionately affected, with over 50% of all dog bite victims falling into this age group.

In addition to that, the Florida Department of Health reports roughly 600 hospitalizations stemming from dog bite injuries each year. Tragically, about two individuals across the nation lose their lives to fatal dog attacks.

What Is My St. Petersburg Dog Bite Case Worth?

It’s important to understand how much your dog bite injury case is worth, even if you’ve already proven that someone else was responsible for your injuries. The insurance company might offer a quick settlement. Often, it’s a tactic designed to get you to accept less money than you deserve.

A St. Petersburg dog bite attorney will carefully evaluate the facts when assessing the value of your dog bite claim. While every case is different, relevant factors include:

  • The type and severity of the injuries you sustained from the dog attack
  • The cost of your past medical treatment and whether you’ll require future medical care
  • Whether you suffered permanent impairment or disfigurement
  • How the dog attack will impact your future
  • Your emotional trauma, including PTSD
  • Whether you missed time at work
  • The circumstances of the attack and whether you contributed in any way
  • The amount of insurance coverage that’s available

Keep in mind that you don’t have to accept the insurance company’s initial offer. In fact, the insurance company might not take your case seriously until you hire an experienced dog bite attorney. At Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys, we’d be happy to use our experience to help you maximize your settlement.

What Types of Damages Are Available to Dog Bite Victims?

Dog bite victims can hold the dog owner fully responsible for the damages they’ve suffered. In other words, they’re entitled to be made “whole” again – to the extent possible.

Economic Damages

You’re entitled to economic damages to cover your financial costs, including:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Reduced earning potential
  • Rehabilitation 
  • Reconstructive surgeries
  • Psychological counseling

Non-Economic Damages

You’re also entitled to non-economic damages, which are designed to compensate for your personal losses and suffering, including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • PTSD
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Physical disfigurement and scarring
  • Loss of consortium

The damages you’ve suffered will be different from those in any other personal injury claim. It’s important to work with a personal injury lawyer who will look at the big picture to see how the dog attack actually impacted your life.

Can I Recover Damages If I’m Being Blamed for a Dog Bite in Florida?

In many dog bite cases, you can recover compensation if the dog owner was negligent. However, the dog owner might be able to escape liability if you provoked the animal.

Under Florida’s modified comparative fault laws, if your share of fault is 50% or less, your compensation can be reduced to account for your share of the blame. So, if the dog owner can prove that you were 30% responsible, you can only recover 70% of your settlement or verdict. If your share of fault exceeds 50%, you cannot recover from the dog owner.

Cases involving shared fault can get messy. Allocating fault between the parties isn’t an easy task. If you’re being blamed, it’s possible that the insurance company’s claims aren’t legitimate. This is why having a qualified dog bite attorney by your side is important.

We’ll Fight to Recover Compensation for All of Your Dog Bite Injuries

Depending on the dog’s size and breed, a dog bite or attack can cause extremely serious injuries. Aside from the puncture wound itself, dangerous dog bite victims often sustain:

  • Broken bones
  • Nerve damage
  • Soft tissue damage, like injuries to the ligaments, tendons, and muscles
  • Facial injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Concussions
  • Back injuries
  • Organ damage, which can be caused by infection
  • Amputation injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Catastrophic injuries
  • Wrongful death of a loved one

When it comes to animal attacks, you deserve fair compensation for all of your injuries. You can count on our legal team to work tirelessly to win the money you need. When you’re ready to get started, call for a free case evaluation with our St. Petersburg dog bite attorneys.

How Do I Prove Liability After a Dog Bite in Florida? 

Dog bites are nothing to play around with, and Florida follows a strict liability law in dog bite cases. You don’t have to prove negligence to recover compensation from the dog owner. The dog’s owner can be liable for damages under Florida dog bite laws if:

  • The dog actually bit you
  • You were in a public place or lawfully in a private place, even if it was the dog owner’s property

You won’t be required to prove that the dog had displayed vicious propensities or aggressive behavior in the past. In other words, there is no “one bite rule” in Florida.

Negligence in Florida Dog Bite Cases

Negligence theories can still be important in a dog bite a dog bite claim. Strict liability laws only apply if the dog actually bit you. If you were attacked, but the dog didn’t bite, you’ll have to prove negligence to recover compensation. You may also have to prove negligence if:

  • The owner displayed a “bad dog” sign in a prominent place, and the victim was at least six years old
  • Someone other than the dog owner was responsible

Four Elements of a Negligence Claims Process

The four elements of a negligence claim are:

If dog owners are negligent, they could be on the hook for damages even if the strict liability law doesn’t cover a victim’s case. For example, you may be able to recover damages based on negligence if:

  • The dog owner violated St. Petersburg leash laws
  • The dog was allowed to wander off the owner’s property freely
  • The owner failed to keep the dog confined or secured
  • The owner failed to take extra precautions if the dog was classified as a dangerous dog

Can I Recover Damages If the Dog Was a Stray in Florida?

Recovering damages from a stray dog attack in Florida can be challenging but not impossible. As mentioned, this is because Florida is a strict liability state for dog bites. This means the owner of the dog is generally liable for any damages caused by the dog’s bite, regardless of the owner’s knowledge or negligence. However, this law only applies to owned dogs, not strays. However, there might be alternative routes to recover damages:

  1. Negligence against a third party: If someone, like a property owner or animal shelter, had a duty to control the stray dog and failed to do so, leading to your attack, you might be able to sue them for negligence. This would require proving they knew or should have known about the dangerous dog and failed to take reasonable steps to control it.
  2. Government agency responsibility: In some cases, local governments or animal control agencies might have some responsibility for managing stray dog populations. If their negligence (for example, failing to capture a known aggressive stray) contributed to your attack, you might explore legal options against them.
  3. Homeowner’s insurance: Even though the dog is a stray, if the attack happened on someone’s property, their homeowner’s insurance might cover your damages.

Dog bite cases can quickly become complex. An experienced dog bite attorney can help you gather the evidence you’ll need to prove your case. If you’re ready to learn more about seeking compensation for your injuries, give us a quick call for a free consultation today.

Understanding Claims vs. Lawsuits: Knowing Your Options After a Dog Bite

You shouldn’t wait too long to pursue compensation after a dog attack. However, it’s crucial to understand the difference between making a dog bite claim and filing a dog bite lawsuit in the context of legal action.

  • Claim: This is an initial step where you formally notify the responsible party (or their insurance company) about your dog attack and your intention to seek compensation. This can be done directly or through legal counsel. Often, claims are filed with an insurance company to request coverage under their policy.
  • Dog Bite Lawsuit: If the claim negotiation doesn’t result in a satisfactory settlement, you might choose to file a lawsuit in court. This formalizes your legal action against the responsible party, initiating a judicial process to determine liability and potential damages.

Florida Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Lawsuits:

Florida law provides a two-year statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit, including dog bite cases. This means you have two years from the date of the dog bite incident to initiate a lawsuit in court.

It’s important to note that the statute of limitations was updated on March 24, 2023. This means the two-year limit applies to dog bites that occurred after that date. If your dog bite happened before March 24, 2023, the previous four-year statute of limitations might still apply. However, consulting with a legal professional for specific guidance on your case is highly recommended.

By understanding the difference between claims and lawsuits, as well as the relevant legal timeframe, you can make informed decisions about pursuing compensation after a dog bite injury in Florida. Remember, it’s always best to consult with a St. Petersburg dog bite attorney to discuss the specifics of your case and explore your legal options.

Contact a St. Petersburg Dog Bite Lawyer for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one sustained dog bite injuries, contact our law offices in St. Petersburg, Florida at (727) 933-0015 to schedule a free consultation. An experienced St. Petersburg dog bite lawyer will help you understand your options and can fight for the fair compensation you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Should I Do If a Dog Bites Me?

Make sure to clean the wound right away with soap and water, and if it looks serious, get medical help pronto. Also, try to figure out which dog bit you and who its owner is, then let the local animal control or cops know about it.

What if the Dog has Never Bitten Anyone Before?

You can still file a dog bite claim in Florida even if the dog that bit you has never bitten anyone before. This is because Florida is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites. This means that the dog owner is held liable for any injuries or damages caused by their dog if it bites another person while on public property or on private property if the victim is lawfully present, regardless of the dog’s past behavior.

Visit Our Personal Injury Office in St. Petersburg, FL

Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys
700 7th Ave N Suite B St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 933-0015

We are available 24/7 to take your call; contact us today.

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