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Dog Bites in Florida

While enjoying my morning coffee this morning, I read about another dog bite case involving the family dog biting and scarring their four year old daughter. The attack was unprovoked and fortunately not fatal although it does sound like some plastic surgery will be necessary. Dog bites leave visible and invisible scars. Unfortunately, at least 500 Florida residents will be attacked and will sustain injuries requiring some hospitalization. Some interesting points about dog bites and attacks; bites are more frequent between April and September and 20% of these bites will be on residents 70 years or older. Most dog bites will be on children ages one through nine, more often boys than girls and more often (59% from 2006 – 2009) from some type of Pit Bull type dog. In fact, between 2006 and 2009 Pit Bull purebreds and Pit Bull mix dogs were responsible for 52 fatal attacks, nationwide.

The Florida Legislature has enacted Florida Statute 767.04 which makes the owner, absent provocation, strictly liable for the injuries caused by their dog whether it is on private or public property. Liability attaches whether or not the dog is on a leash, or running free on it’s own property. The Statute has a funny twist which applies to all dog bites that occur on the dog owner’s property. If the owner displays a ‘Bad Dog’ sign, he is not liable to bite victims over the age of 6.

Dogs are mostly loving and loyal but can be dangerous and deadly. Juries are often called on to make decisions regarding provocation and one of the common defenses which we see at Gibbs and Parnell is the ‘It’s not my dog defense’. Having handled hundreds of dog bite cases over the years, we have become adept at proving ownership of the dog. This is done through testimony of neighbors, law enforcement personnel and records of prior attacks.

If you or a family member suffers a dog bite, make sure you seek proper medical care and treatment at once. When you’re ready to seek compensation for your injuries from a dog bite, make sure you pick an AV rated firm like Gibbs and Parnell who have years of experience handling these types of cases. Some dog bites you simply can’t prevent but many you can. Do not provoke a dog you don’t know and avoid approaching or petting a strange dog. Most importantly, if you see a ‘Bad Dog’ sign, assume they mean it and exercise due care and proper precautions.


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