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St. Petersburg Dog Bite Attorney

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The St. Petersburg dog bite attorneys of Salter, Healy, Rivera & Heptner understand that dog bites are a matter of owner carelessness and can be avoided. Dog owners have a duty to control their pets. When a dog bites you, you deserve compensation for the medical costs and the suffering you endure.

With nearly 60 years of combined legal experience, our lawyers care about giving you personal attention throughout your case to achieve a positive case result. We make ourselves accessible all day, every day through our off-hours phone line to best serve you.

Why Choose Us

  • Our firm holds decades of experience in personal injury law and have helped Florida residents secure millions of dollars in compensation. We have the skills and knowledge you need to hold the dog’s owner accountable for your injuries.
  • Our St. Petersburg injury attorneys understand how painful a dog bite injury can be. We will handle all aspects of your claim on your behalf and will gladly meet with you at your home, hospital room, or another location for your convenience.
  • Our firm prioritizes open and direct communication throughout your case. Your attorney will work directly with you and will be available to answer questions and provide important case updates.

Common Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bites can lead to serious physical harm. Puncture wounds, broken bones, and permanent scars are common after these attacks. In many cases, dog attacks lead to severe facial damage, resulting in permanent disfigurement, eye injuries, and nerve damage. In many cases, dog bite victims need reconstructive surgery to recover from their injuries.

Dogs can also pass harmful bacteria through their saliva that can lead to infections and serious diseases. Without prompt medical attention, these conditions can be fatal. Some of the most common infections that may occur due to a dog bite include the following.

  • Cellulitis: Pasteurella are bacterial organisms that can cause an infection known as cellulitis. This condition can lead to meningitis, eye infections, pneumonia, and blood conditions, which can be extremely dangerous without prompt medical attention.
  • Rabies: The worst infection you can obtain through a dog bite is rabies. This viral disease infects the central nervous system, leading to severe brain damage and death. Symptoms of rabies may include fever, headaches, insomnia, and hallucinations.
  • Capnocytophaga infections: This condition occurs when dogs transmit the bacteria capnocytophaga through a bite. Symptoms of a capnocytophaga infection may include fever, vomiting, headache, and rashes. Without treatment, this infection can lead to sepsis, a severe and life-threatening condition.
  • Staph and strep infections: Staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria live in dog saliva and can lead to dangerous staph or strep infections. Symptoms of these conditions include fevers, swelling, and painful blisters. Left untreated, staph or strep infections could lead to cellulitis.

Determining Liability

A dog bite can have many ramifications for the victim and the dog owner. In Florida, a dog owner is automatically responsible or strictly liable for the damages caused when their dog bites someone.

Some of the factors that go into determining liability include:

  • The owner’s history with animals
  • The dog’s own history
  • The care provided to the dog
  • The victim’s history with animals
  • The circumstances surrounding this particular incident

As your dog bite lawyer, we work hard to compile evidence that proves the owner’s liability and fight to obtain fair compensation for your injury.

How to Prove a Florida Dog Bite Lawsuit?

Unlike other types of personal injury claims, you do not need to prove that the dog owner was negligent in order to secure compensation in a lawsuit. Instead, you will need to prove that the at-fault party’s dog bit you, and that you were in a public place or lawfully in a private place at the time of the injury. You can use multiple pieces of evidence to prove your case, including medical records, witness testimony, and surveillance footage.

If you did not suffer a dog bite injury but were attacked by a dog, you will need to prove that the owner’s negligence caused the attack. A dog owner has a duty to use reasonable care to restrain and control his or her animal. If the owner fails to use reasonable care, he or she would be liable for any injuries that occur as a result of his or her negligence.

Getting Compensation

We understand that you need money to pay for extensive medical bills resulting from the attack. Throughout your case, we leverage the evidence we collect and go to court if necessary to obtain results such as:

  • Coverage for medical costs. Dog bites can do some significant damage, especially if on the face. We secure coverage for your medical bills to relieve your financial strain.
  • Loss of wages. To compensate you for the time you miss from work, we seek damages to cover your lost wages and earning capacity.
  • Pain and suffering. Dog bites can cause significant emotional trauma. We obtain damages to compensate you for your pain and suffering.

Common Dog Owner Defenses

Although you may be able to establish a dog owner’s liability, he or she may defend himself or herself by making various claims. He or she may state that you were trespassing at the time of the accident or that you provoked the dog to attack you. If the court accepts these claims, your award could be at risk of reduction under Florida’s pure comparative negligence laws.

Under Florida law, the court will reduce your award by the percentage of fault that you allegedly share. You can recover compensation even if you were 99% at fault, unlike other states that bar recovery at 50% or more. For example, if the court finds that you were trespassing at the time of the bite and assigns you 60% of the liability, you will only receive $4,000 out of a potential $10,000 settlement.

The owner may also state that he or she placed a Bad Dog sign on his or her property. Under Florida law, a dog owner is exempt from liability for bite injuries if he or she places an easily readable Bad Dog sign in a prominent location. This does not apply if the victim is under six years old or if the owner was also negligent.

The Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Claims in Florida

A statute of limitations is a law that sets a time limit for filing legal claims, including dog bite lawsuits. Different types of claims are subject to different deadlines. If you do not file your lawsuit within the appropriate time period, the court will likely dismiss your claim and prevent you from recovering the compensation you deserve.

Under Florida law, you have four years from the date of the attack to file a dog bite lawsuit in civil court. There are certain circumstances where the filing deadline may be extended, but these situations are not common in dog bite claims. As soon as possible following the incident, speak to an attorney at Salter, Healy, Rivera & Heptner to identify your filing deadline and strategize your optimal path to recovery.

Why You Need a Dog Bite Attorney

If you are planning on filing a dog bite lawsuit in Florida civil court, it is important to have an attorney on your side. A St. Petersburg dog bite attorney from Salter, Healy, Rivera & Heptner can provide several important benefits to your case, including the following.

  • Your attorney can defend you against accusations of shared fault and gather the evidence you need to establish the dog owner’s liability.
  • Your lawyer will have significant experience representing dog bite injury claims similar to yours. He or she will be able to leverage his or her knowledge, resources, and case strategies to develop a compelling case in your favor.
  • You may not know the full extent of your injuries and damages. Your attorney can help you identify all possible avenues to compensation, accurately calculate your estimated award, and help you secure a maximum settlement.
  • Dog bites can result in severe, debilitating injuries. Navigating a legal claim can be stressful while recovering from this damage. Your lawyer will handle all aspects of your claim on your behalf so you can focus on recovery, not complex litigation.

Contact Our St. Petersburg Dog Bite Attorneys Today

When you suffer a dog bite, don’t be discouraged by the cost of medical bills or legal fees — you won’t have to pay us any fees or costs until we recover compensation for you. Call our St. Petersburg dog bite lawyers today or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your injury. If you cannot make it to our office, we will come to you. We provide personal, caring attention to you throughout your case and use our experience as civil trial attorneys to get you the result you’re looking for.

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