Every year, more than 4.7 million dog bites are reported across the country. Half of these attacks involve children. Since children are still growing and developing, a dog bite can do a lot of damage.
What can you do if your child suffers a dog bite injury? In Florida, dog bite victims can file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner. In fact, dog owners can be strictly liable for injuries caused by their canine companions. There are certain situations when dog owners can escape liability for dog bite injuries. However, these exceptions typically don’t apply when children are involved.
Dog Owners Strictly Liable for Dog Bites
Florida law states that dog owners can be held strictly liable for injuries inflicted by a dog. Strict liability means that:
- Dog owners don’t have to have known that their dog is vicious or dangerous
- Dogs don’t have to have a history of viciousness or attacks, and
- Victims don’t have to prove that the dog owner was negligent in caring for or watching the dog.
In other words, strict liability means that a dog owner is fully responsible for the actions of their dogs, regardless of the steps they take to prevent bites or dangerous behavior.
Exceptions to Strict Liability
There are exceptions to Florida’s strict liability dog bite laws. Owners may be able to avoid responsibility for injuries caused by a dog if:
- The dog was provoked, or
- The attack happened on private property where the victim didn’t have permission to be.
Other times, dog owners can limit their responsibility by posting “dangerous dog” warning signs around the perimeter of their property.
Exceptions May Not Apply When Kids Get Hurt
These exceptions are intended to prevent victims from creating a dangerous situation and then holding the dog owner responsible for injuries. However, small children tend to lack the ability to think clearly and understand the consequences of their actions.
It’s easy to see how a child could wander onto private property without permission. If they see a dog, they may run and try to pet it. The child isn’t thinking about whether or not the dog is friendly or safe. They’re simply delighted to see the dog and may want to play with it. It’s also easy to see how a dog may become defensive or feel threatened, and then lash out and bite the child.
This is why exceptions to dog bite laws in Florida don’t typically apply when kids are injured by a dog. As a result, it can be easier to recover compensation when a child is the victim of a dog bite in Miami.
Children Can Be Seriously Injured By a Dog Bite
Children and dogs don’t always mix. Approximately half of all dog bites involve a victim under the age of 11. Most children who are injured are between the ages of 5 and 9. Common dog bite injuries sustained by children include:
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue damage
- Head injury
- Injuries to the face and hands
- Spinal cord damage, and
- Wrongful death.
The younger the child, the greater the risk of serious injury. Statistics show that children under the age of 4 are more likely than others to sustain injuries to the head and neck. These types of injuries are particularly troubling because they can be life-threatening.
Unfortunately, some children do not survive dog bite attacks. Young children are much more likely to die because of a dog bite. In fact, 48 percent of fatal dog bite victims are under the age of 1.
What Should I Do If My Child Is Bitten By a Dog?
First, make sure that your child gets the medical attention they need. The quicker you act, the better your child’s chances of recovery. Next, call the police and report the attack. The more evidence you have to support your claim, the stronger your case will be. Finally, contact an experienced Miami dog personal injury lawyer for help. You’ll need to focus on your child’s recovery. Let an attorney handle the complicated legal case. Trusting your attorney will help you successfully recover the compensation your family deserves.
Are you or someone you love struggling with a dog bite injury? Contact Lavent Law, P.A. for immediate legal assistance. We’ll help you fight to get the money you deserve. Schedule your free consultation by calling our office today.