Many Floridians depend on their pets for companionship and protection, integrating them into their lives and communities. However, even the most friendly dogs, cats, etc. can unexpectedly snap and bite or scratch someone, causing severe pain and leaving victims vulnerable to infection or disfigurement.
KMW Legal Can Help With Your Dog Bite Lawsuit
At Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh we have helped many Tampa residents who have been injured and permanently scarred after being mauled or bitten by a dog or other pet. Our dedicated team of top-notch attorneys are regarded as skilled Tampa litigators who know how to handle dog bite claims.
Our experience supporting clients with dog bite cases has taught us that physical scars are rarely the only lasting impact of an animal attack. After being injured by a pet, our clients have often faced staggering medical bills for reconstructive surgeries, an unstable income after losing wages, and emotional trauma associated with the event.
The lawyers of Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh will intercede with insurance companies to hammer out a settlement that properly compensates you for the actual extent of your damages. We encourage you to consult with one of our respected attorneys at a free strategy session where you can learn more about who we are and the services we offer our valued clients.
Dog Bites Can Result in Significant Injuries
When an animal feels threatened, it can lash out and inflict significant physical trauma on the nearest perceived threat, even if that is just a curious toddler or frail grandmother. What may have started as a simple bite can escalate into a full-blown assault with a dog knocking a person down and causing further damage.
Examples of Common Dog Bite-Related Injuries
- Severe lacerations and puncture wounds
- Broken bones
- Head trauma
- Scarring and disfigurements
The initial wound may only necessitate basic first aid, but many require stitches or become infected without proper treatment. Dogs and other common pets may also carry diseases without showing symptoms, putting the person they bite at risk of contracting a viral or bacterial infection when they are bitten.
After being knocked to the ground by a dog, victims may sustain further injuries when they use their arms to break the fall or hit their heads. This can result in a traumatic brain injury, which can range in severity from a concussion that needs to be monitored to a life-altering injury that impedes speech, memory retention, and the capacity to perform everyday tasks.
Florida’s Strict Liability Standard Hold Pet Owners Liable for Injuries
According to Florida law, a dog or other pet owner is accountable for the injuries their pet causes to others. In many cases, it is not necessary to prove that the owner was negligent in order to claim compensation for damages in a dog bite lawsuit based on strict liability. However, this policy does come with a few caveats.
Victims of dog bites may have the value of their settlements reduced or their dog bite lawsuit dismissed if:
- the dog bite victim is partially liable for the dog’s behavior by antagonizing it or otherwise provoking it
- a dog owner posts a sign on their property clearly warning visitors of the dog’s temperament, such as a “bad dog” sign. However, if a child under the age of 6 was injured, or the dog owner was negligent in their behavior, the dog owner is still liable for the injuries caused by their dog.
- a dog bite victim trespassed on private property without an express or implied invitation from the owner
- the dog was acting in its capacity as a trained police or military canine
Under Florida’s strict liability statute, a burglar who is bitten by a family pet or an unruly teenager who intentionally torments a dog and winds up bitten would be likely to have a dog bite lawsuit dismissed outright.
Negligent Tampa Dog Owners Can Be Held Accountable
While dog owners are not able to control their animal’s behavior completely, they are responsible for taking appropriate steps to lessen the risk of their pet attacking someone, such as observing Hillsborough leashing laws. When a pet owner ignores or disobeys the law, it is presumed they were negligent; this is known as an accusation of negligence per se.
Additionally, dog owners who fail to act with reasonable caution that other pet owners in their position would have displayed can be found liable for their negligence if their pet attacks and injures someone. If they shirk this responsibility, they can be found liable for damages in a dog bite lawsuit, even if they weren’t technically breaking the law.
Dog Owners Who Commit Intentional Torts Are Responsible for Damages
In some unfortunate cases, dog owners deliberately antagonize or direct their pets to bite, scratch, or attack other people. Sometimes this is done in an attempt to intimidate passersby and in other cases, intentional attacks have more criminal motivations. The injuries can be quite extensive, especially because the dog owner likely cannot be counted on to intervene.
The dog bite victim may be able to recover compensation for their medical bills as well as pain and suffering or lost wages in a dog bite lawsuit. A qualified Tampa personal injury attorney can aid you in demonstrating the harm was purposefully inflicted in the form of assault, intent to cause emotional distress, or other types of torts.
What Damages Can I Claim in a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the average cost of a dog bite claim was $49,025, with Florida being one of the top three states in the nation for dog bite claims. In fact, data referenced by the Sun-Sentinel demonstrates that “dog bites and other dog-related injuries account for nearly a third of the money paid out in 2018 for homeowner liability claims — [totaling] $675 million”.
While these numbers may seem large, KMW Legal always encourages our clients to think ahead to the potential future costs they will be burdened with as a result of their dog bite injury. The following are examples of damages you may be eligible to be compensated for if you have been injured by a dog bite.
- Medical bills
- Lab Tests
- Ambulance Rides
- Transportation to Appointments
- Surgeries, Reconstruction
- Hospital Stays
- Mobility Aids
- Home Healthcare Services
- Home Modifications
- Physical or Occupational Therapy
- Lost Wages
- Lost Earning Potential
- Costs of Job Retraining
- Missed Promotions
- Inability to Continue Career
- Pain and Suffering
- Wrongful Death
- Funeral Costs
- Loss of Consortium
- Lost Income Contribution
Fractures, head trauma, and severe lacerations may require long-term follow-up care and even surgery or therapy, leading you to miss work as bills accumulate. The impact of scarring or disfigurement can be demoralizing and humiliating. It may cost you your self-confidence, or even your career.
It is our duty to raise these issues and include them in the settlement claim so our clients can rest assured that their expenses will be accounted for in their dog bite lawsuit.
Why Do I Need a Tampa Dog Bite Lawyer’s Help?
According to the CDC, most dog bite victims are young children who are familiar with the animal that bit them. The dog may belong to a neighbor or friend, and it can be awkward or intimidating to confront a dog owner about their failure to properly manage their pet.
Oftentimes, dog owners will try to excuse the behavior of their animal by insinuating that the dog was provoked or the injuries were exaggerated, which their insurance carrier may seize as reasons to deny your dog bite claim. KMW Legal is more than familiar with these defense strategies and has experience in proving our client’s side of the story is true.
KMW Legal Offers a Wide Range of Services
With the assistance of Keller Melchior, & Walsh, you can feel confident that all of your personal injury needs have been accounted for. We will work to ensure that you receive a fair settlement that covers your medical expenses, emotional trauma from the attack and the recovery process, as well as the impact on your career in the form of lost wages or compromised earning capacity.
KMW Legal prides itself on the resources we have available for our clients to assist in their claim. We can put clients in contact with respected medical professionals to evaluate and document their injuries and distress. Meanwhile, we’ll review any available documentation of the scene and address calls from debt collectors and insurance companies looking to settle. We are your first and best line of defense against anyone looking to diminish the legitimate value of your dog bite lawsuit.
Insurance Companies May Deny or Reduce Dog Bite Settlements
Insurance companies, by virtue of their business model, do not want to pay out a claim if it can be avoided because it cuts into their profits. They may attempt to contact you to convince you to accept a lower settlement than you actually deserve, citing your role in the attack as grounds for a paltry settlement payout.
However, Florida enforces what is known as comparative negligence, which means that if you were found to contribute 40% of the fault that resulted in your dog bite injuries, you would still be eligible to receive 60% of the final settlement sum. A Tampa dog bite lawyer can guide you through the process of filing a personal injury claim to recover your expenses incurred as a result of your injury.
The attorneys of Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh know how insurance companies operate, and we are prepared to lend a hand in your time of need. We have overseen many Tampa dog bite cases and successfully reclaimed damages for our injured clients, giving them the financial resources and peace of mind they sought to re-establish their lives.
KMW is Proud to Represent Injured Dog Bite Victims in Tampa, Florida
Tampa is the largest city of Hillsborough County and home to a population of 387,916 people. Our work in the Tampa area for the past decade has given us the opportunity to protect clients from insurance companies that may inadequately compensate them for dog bite injuries.
We know that a fair settlement includes compensation for the painful process of recovery, the pricey medical bills, lost wages, and the damage to self-esteem, and we pursue that goal relentlessly.
Contact a Tampa Dog Bite Lawyer Today
Tampa is known as one of the most pet-friendly cities in the country due to its variety of dog-friendly spaces and the availability of qualified veterinarians. However, that also means that Tampa residents definitely need to be aware of the risks of dog bites and the legal resources available to them if they are bitten.
KMW Legal has cultivated a sterling reputation for legal prowess based on individual references from our satisfied clients. Not only do we strive to achieve results based on settlement outcomes, but we also aim to make our clients feel heard and respected.
The lawyers of Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh can be contacted at your convenience for a no-cost, no-obligation strategy session at our Tampa office to begin the work of securing you the damages you are due in a dog bite lawsuit.