Poodles, boxers, collies. Dogs like these and other breeds are the reasons dogs are man’s best friend. They fetch, rollover, and stay loyal year-round. Unfortunately, some dogs do have their bad moments. If they are scared, teased, or frightened – they may bite. Young children often don’t understand a dog’s temperament. Postal workers are often attacked just for doing their job. Unleashed dogs can cause a Vero Beach dog bite to attack people without warning.
At Lulich & Attorneys, our experienced dog bite lawyers work aggressively when clients contact us about a dog bite. Our personal injury lawyers start by focusing on your medical needs. Dogs that bite can cause infections, scarring, deep wounds, and disfigurement. Our lawyers investigate how the dog bite occurred and who is responsible. In many cases, we are able to settle your case with the insurance adjusters for the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance company. If necessary, we’re ready to try your case before a jury.
How regularly do dogs bite??
- About 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year. That’s right – 4.7 million.
- The odds of dying from a dog bite are 1 in 112,400.
- About 7 in 10 dogs bites are because the dog isn’t neutered
- 36 people died from dog bites in America in 2018 - 26 by pit bulls.
- “Rabies isn’t a problem in areas where 70% of dogs are vaccinated.”
The top dog breeds that bite include pit bulls, rottweilers, bull terriers (Staffordshire), German shepherds, and bullmastiffs. Huskies, Boxers, Great Danes, Dobermans, and bulldogs are also known to bite more often than other dogs.
What are the Florida and Vero Beach dog bite rules?
In Florida, dog owners are liable based on a strict liability dog bite statute. The statute provides that the dog owner is responsible if:
- The dog bite victim is in a public space
- The victim is lawfully on the dog owner’s property. Florida law and the US postal regulations determine what is lawful.
The victim doesn’t need to prove that the dog had a propensity to bite.
There are some exceptions to the strict liability rule:
- The damages can be reduced if the victim contributed to the dog bite. There is a caveat. The law presumes that children are either incapable of negligence or that there is a rebuttable presumption that they are not negligent.
- Dog owners are also not liable if they have “a sign easily readable including the words ‘Bad Dog,’ on his/her property – unless:
- The victim is under six years of age
- The owner’s negligence caused the bite”
In addition to strict liability, a dog owner may be liable if the dog owner:
- Was negligent
- Violated Florida or Vero Beach dog laws such as leash laws
- Encourage the dog to bite the victim
Which people have the right to file a Vero Beach dog bite claim?
At Lulich & Attorneys, our lawyers file dog bite claims on behalf of:
- The parents of children (under 18) who the dog bites
- Postal workers
- The families of anyone killed by a dog bite – by filing a wrongful death case.
When dogs bite, what injuries are Vero Beach victims likely to suffer? How to treat a bite on a dog.
Anyone who is attacked or bitten by a dog should go to their ER immediately. Some of the injuries that dog bites cause and dog bite symptoms include:
- Abrasions are generally minor skin injuries. While they can be treated at home, it’s best to seek medical help because even an abrasion can cause dog bite infections and disease.
- These injuries are deep cuts of the skin. Lacerations penetrate past the first skin layer, the epidermis, into deeper skin layers, your body’s blood vessels, the nerves, bones, and your muscles. Victims of dog bites who have lacerations often need stitches. You should not treat lacerations with self-care. You need to go to the ER or see your family doctor. Lacerations often cause bleeding. If left untreated they can cause troublesome infections. A sign of a laceration is an uneven bitemark.
- Puncture wounds.These injuries are generally deeper than lacerations and have a greater risk of causing infection if they are not treated by a physician.
- Infections are a major concern for every dog bite. Dogs carry a lot of bacteria in their mouth. Some of the signs the dog bite may have caused an infection include pus, swelling, pain, and redness. According to Healthline.com, some of the signs and symptoms that you have a bacterial infection include a fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes in your neck, groin, or armpits You may have a headache, feel nauseous, or vomit. The area that is infected may be red, and swell. There may even be pus. You may experience pain. You should clean any wounds immediately. If you or your child was bitten by a dog, it’s best to play safe and seek medical help right away. You should clean the area that appears infected immediately. Your doctor will likely give you antibiotics to treat the infection.
- This is the worst type of infection you can suffer due to a dog bite. The risk of rabies in the US is fairly low. Still, some dogs, especially dogs that aren’t vaccinated, may have rabies. When they bite you or your child, there’s a risk the dog may transmit the disease. That’s why it’s important to identify the dog that bit you so the dog can be tested if need be. Your local ER doctor will determine whether you need to be treated for rabies. It’s best to see the ER doctor (or your family doctor as soon as possible) after the dog bite. Rabies symptoms can take a long time to appear. Once you develop rabies, treatment may be difficult. Rabies symptoms include a fever, a sore throat, headaches, convulsions, hypersalivation, paralysis, and hyperventilation.
- It’s possible to develop tetanus after a dog bite. The possibility of tetanus is one reason doctors give tetanus shots at various intervals in your life. Ask your doctor how soon you need to treat after a dog bite for tetanus.
- If the dog bite causes lacerations or other deep wounds, then the victim may have scarring in the area of the bite. Scarring is especially concerning if the dog bites your face or the face of a child. Depending on the severity of the scarring, there may be expensive treatments available such as skin grafts and laser therapy. Victims of the scarring may need to treat with a psychologist to manage the psychological trauma of being self-conscious and worrying about how other people will react to the scars.
Some large dogs can cause crushing injuries. If a small child is bitten by a large dog, the dog may also break the child’s bones or cause muscle or soft tissue injuries while the dog is biting your child. Some bites may cause nerve damage which can result in the loss of use of a body part. Severe nerve damage may even result in paralysis.
Many dog bites suffer excruciating pain which requires treatment with a pain management doctor. Some victims may suffer anxiety and fear of any animal – so, that they need to treat with a psychologist.
If the dog bite causes the victim to fall, the victim may also suffer death, head trauma, broken limb, bruises, and other injuries.
What damages can a Vero Beach dog bite victim claim??
At Luliich Attorneys & Consultants, we demand the dog owners pay for all your expenses, financial losses, and hurts and anxieties including:
- The emergency room bill
- Any hospital or ASC surgeries
- Treatment with any doctors including specialists
- All types of necessary and reasonable therapy such as physical therapy
- Psychological treatment
- Drug costs
- Medical devices
- Lost income due to the need to treat the injuries and/or a work disability due to the dog bite
- Scarring and disfigurement
How does a Vero Beach dog bite attorney work for you?
Skilled Vero Beach dog bite lawyers help dog bite victims in many ways:
- Investigating the dog that bit you. It’s critical to identify the dog that bit you and to identify the veterinarian that was the dog’s physician. Identifying the dog is a step in identifying the owner of the dog. It’s very important to know what shots such as rabies shots the dog has had to understand what diseases the dog may pass on to any victim. The type of dog can help verify any crushing injuries you or your child may have suffered.
- Investigating how the dog bite occurred. We normally have investigators question witnesses to determine where, when, and how the dog bite occurred. If the dog bite was in a public space such as a park, that knowledge helps to prove liability because dog owners are strictly liable for dog bites that occur in public spaces. If the dog bite was on someone’s property, then it helps to know exactly where the bite occurred – in the home, in the backyard, on the front porch, or somewhere else.
- Identifying all the medical bills and obtaining medical reports from your doctors. We obtain all the relevant medical bills including:
- The emergency room bill
- The cost of any surgeries including the bill for the anesthesiologist
- The cost of any physical therapy or rehabilitative therapy
We obtain a full medical report from your treating physician which diagnoses the type of dog bite, the type of dog bite injury you have, details the treatments you needed and may still need, and sets forth the prognosis after the treatments are complete. We ask the doctor to explain all the medical concerns and all the physical and emotional consequences associated with the dog bite injuries you have.
- Filing a complaint. We work to determine who the owner of the dog is. Once the owner’s identity is clear, we file a complaint against the dog owner for your injuries. We respond to any filings the dog owner may make contesting your claim including arguing that you or your child contributed to the dog bite.
- Conducting discovery. In dog bite cases, your Vero Beach dog bite attorney and the attorney for the owner will normally conduct discovery to determine exactly what happened and to determine the full extent of your injuries. There are normally three parts to the discovery process:
- These are written questions. We have the right to ask the owner questions about his/her dog including what vaccinations the dog had, whether there were any prior dog bite incidents, what the dog’s reaction to the bite was, how the dog bite occurred, whether the owner invited the dog bite victim onto their property, and many other questions. The attorney for the owner has the right to ask you about your involvement (or your child’s) in the dog bite, what doctors you saw and when, what symptoms you had, what pain and suffering you’re experiencing, and many other questions.
- These are oral questions. Many of these questions are the same or similar to the written questions that both sides submit to each party. The difference is that with the interrogatories, you have time to prepare your answers (normally 20 or 30 days). With depositions, you and the defendant must answer the questions when they are asked. Also, interrogatories are limited to questions to the parties to the lawsuit – the victim (or parent) and the dog owner. Depositions can be used to question any witnesses such as a neighbor who may have witnessed the dog bite or any of the healthcare providers that treated you.
- Requests for productions of documents. These are requests to you and the dog owner to provide copies of relevant documents. Your Vero Beach dog bite attorney may ask to see the insurance policy the dog owner has to determine the amount of coverage. We may also ask for records of any prior lawsuits or complaints about the dog. The lawyer for the dog owner may ask to see any medical bills, any medical reports, and any proof of lost income such as W2s or 1099s – if you’re making a claim for lost income.
- Negotiating with the insurance adjuster. Skilled Vero Beach dog bite lawyers normally don’t begin negotiating with the insurance adjuster until the investigation and discovery process is complete and your medical situation (or that of your child) is stable. We prepare a demand letter that details your injuries, your income loss, and the physical and emotional pain you have due to the dog bite. The demand letter also explains why the dog owner is liable. Normally, the insurance adjuster makes a counteroffer. Skilled personal injury lawyers understand when to respond to the insurance adjusters and what additional offers to make – with the ultimate aim of settling your case only if you agree and only if the final settlement offer compensates you for your damages.
- Preparing your case for court. Ideally, your case settles. Many cases that don’t settle during the initial negotiation process do settle before the case is called for trial. Sometimes, learning which judge is assigned to the case may help forge a settlement. If the case does not settle, then there are many steps your Vero Beach dog bite attorney will take to help you prepare for the trial. These steps include:
- Having a dry run so you can anticipate many of the questions the defense lawyer may ask. A dry run helps put dog bite victim at ease. They’re especially helpful if the dog bite victim is a child.
- Preparing the evidence for trial. This includes identifying all the witnesses who may be called to testify such as any physicians and any witnesses. We may try to stipulate to some of the evidence and to the submission of the medical report in order to save time and costs. If there are photos or other visual exhibits, your Vero Beach dog bite lawyer will prepare copies and blow-ups for everyone involved in the case.
- Writing any briefs on any legal issues that may be involved in the case. For example, we may write a brief on the issue of contributory negligence.
- Trying your case before a jury of your Florida peers. This includes selecting the jury and presenting the case before the jury.
Contact a tough Vero Beach dog bite lawyer now
Delay can hurt your case. It’s important to speak with an experienced Vero Beach dog bite attorney as soon as possible. We’ll help you see the correct doctors. We’ll guide you through the complexities of your claim. Most importantly, we’ll fight the insurance companies and defense lawyers who try to deny or limit your claim. We handle dog bite cases on a contingency fee basis. The law offices of Lulich & Attorneys want you to be informed and protected! Call for your Free Consultation today. You can reach us in Vero Beach at 772-589-5500 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.
Lulich & Attorneys Vero Beach Office
- Phone: 772-589-5500
- Address: 1612 20th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960
- Hours: M-F 8:30PM - 5:00PM