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What to Do After a Dog Bite

Dogs are widely known as man’s best friend, but sometimes things don’t go as we expect. Dog bites can be painful experiences, requiring medical attention to close up wounds and confirm that there is not a risk of rabies. And paying for these attacks is something that insurance companies know all too well. Dog bites are unfortunate, and in some cases they can be fatal, so it’s important to know what to do if the situation presents itself.

Keep Your Wits About You after an Attack

The most important thing to do is remain calm. The shock of being attacked, compounded with the piercing pain that accompanies dog bites, can inflame the situation that led to the bite in the first place. Once your personal safety has been established, seek medical treatment immediately.

Make a Record of What Happened

The next step, which needs to be accomplished as quickly as possible, is filling out a bite report with the local police. Recollections of the events leading up to the attack can quickly become hazy, and it’s important to create a record for the police and for the insurance company that will be responsible for paying your medical bills.

Determining Strict Liability Issues

Florida, like many other states, takes a “strict liability” approach, which considers the totality of the incident that led to the bite taking place. Strict liability looks at two primary factors in determining the liability of a dog owner when a bite takes place. The first element is whether the person receiving the bite was legally allowed to be where they were when the bite happened. Someone in a public place, or on their own property or someone else’s as an invited guest, will meet the first part of this test.

The second part is of this test is sometimes more difficult to determine. The question is whether the person receiving the bite did anything to provoke the dog. Petting an apparently friendly dog without first asking the owner can be considered a provocation. Surprising a dog when it is not expecting any attention can lead to the natural defense reaction of biting. Dog owners will typically use this defense to defend themselves against liability, but recent trends have shown the value of dog bite cases in Florida to be the highest, on average, in the nation.

Protecting Your Health and Legal Rights

Once medical attention has been received, and a record of the attack has been preserved, it is time to establish a liability claim against the owner of the dog, if possible. A homeowners’ insurance policy is often the best avenue to proceed, although auto insurance may be in play if the attack happens inside a vehicle, or the dog’s owner may carry pet owner’s insurance, as well. Knowing the identity of the pet’s owner is important, as well as the pet’s name, breed, and physical description. Taking a picture of the dog, if possible, is a good way of establishing the identity of the animal involved.

Receiving Treatment and Compensation

A dog bite or attack can be a very painful and costly event. An experienced lawyer can assist you with identifying an attacking dog’s owner, and determining the amount and type of liability insurance available to pay for medical damages, lost wages, and pain and suffering. At Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian, our experienced Tampa personal injury lawyers are available to help.  Call toll-free at 1 (800) 227-2275 for a consultation today.

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