People being bitten by a dog in Orlando or Central Florida happens more frequently than most would think. Statistics provided by Florida Health show that annually over six hundred people in Florida are hospitalized as a result of dog bites. On average two people die each year statewide from dog attacks. Nationally in 2016, 31 fatalities occurred from dog attacks (18 adults and 13 children). California had the highest number of any state with six fatalities. Although fatalities from dog bites are rare, being bitten is more common than most would think. In 2016 alone an estimated 4.7 million people were bitten by dogs and almost 370,000 bites resulted in patients being treated in emergency rooms across the nation. In Florida these numbers can only increase as the population continues to rapidly expand with new residents moving to the state in record numbers. According to the US Census Bureau more than 73,000 new residents moved into the Orlando area alone in 2016 (almost 25,000 more people moved to Central Florida than moved to New York City in 2016). The point is that the number of dogs is also rapidly expanding along with the unprecedented population expansion. More people equals more dogs and canines which, in turn, obviously equals an increase in the numbers of dog bites.
Dog Bites: Statistics
Taking a close look at the statistics released by the Florida Department of Health reveals some interesting statistics that the public should be aware of.
– Children are most commonly bitten and are proven to be at the greatest risk to be the victim of dog bites.
– Under 14 years of age, boys are bitten far more frequently than frequently than girls. Additionally, in this age group, victims that are bitten on the neck or head far outdistance all other age groups combined. Perhaps this should not be surprising as children are shorter than adults and the neck and head body areas are more accessible to a dog than in adults.
– Children bitten required medical attention 300% more than adults that were bitten (6.4/1,000 incidents versus 2/1,000 incidents for adults).
– When adults were bitten, the most common cause was the person attempting to break up or prevent a fight between two dogs.
– Over 50% of all dog bites that involved children actually were cases that occurred in the child’s home or family property (where the dog was known by the child or actually a member of the family’s household).
– Non-neutered male dogs were more frequently involved in attacks and injuries, as compared to neutered male dogs and females.
– An astounding 32% of incidents that occur in Florida each year involve a dog that was not on a leash and were not on the owner’s property. Of these cases, almost 90% were incidents where the dog was totally unknown to the bitten victim!
The best practice is to prevent dog bites and hopefully never have anyone in your family ever experience one. Here are some recommendations from Florida Health that we here at the Law Office of Mark A. Risi, PA encourage you to read and share with others. If you have children, we encourage you to emphasis the possible danger and ask you to review the suggestions directed at children below.
– NEVER leave an infant or baby alone with any dog. This includes your family’s pet. A child should ALWAYS be under an adult’s supervision when a dog is present.
– NEVER disturb a dog that is eating, sleeping or has puppies.
– NEVER go near a strange or unfamiliar dog. In fact children should be taught to report seeing any unfamiliar dogs to an adult (or any dog that they know that is acting strangely).
– NEVER scream around a dog, look it directly in the eyes or run from one.
– If you feel threatened, place an obstacle between yourself and the dog (such as a bicycle).
– If attacked, roll into a ball, remain as still as possible and cover your face if possible.
What To Do If Bitten
As discussed previously, every year in Florida over 600 people are hospitalized as a result of dog bites. Additionally, two people are fatally attacked by a dog in the Sunshine State on average annually. Not every one has been involved in a situation involving a dog bite, but those who have can share what a scary and dangerous scene can quickly arise. Those that have been involved have found out that a severe dog bite can become a life changing event. This is especially true in children where the statistics show that greater than 42% of all occurrences involve a child younger than 14 years old.
If you or another is bitten:
– First control and stop any bleeding.
– Make sure that you thoroughly disinfect the area with soap and water.
– Then seek proper medical attention immediately.
– Report the incident to the police or to your local animal control department.
– Take photos of the property where you were bitten to prove that there was not a Bad Dog or Beware of Dog sign displayed, if one wasn’t. Owners often will add one after an attack and it’s tough to prove it wasn’t there when the incident took place.
– Also, take photos of the bite/injuries before and after medical care is performed. Take some of the photos fairly close, plus some others further back.
– Consider contacting an experienced attorney to learn more about your legal options. We recommend that you act as quickly as possible to document exactly what happened, get a list of all witnesses and file a report with the police (so that the authorities can immediately document all the facts. This will help ensure that any possible liability is established should you decide to pursue a case via the courts.
The statutes in Florida can be complicated regarding dog bites and it is important that a victim understand their rights. In certain instances the bitten party may be entitled to recover medical expenses incurred (immediate and future expenses), lost wages, plus compensation in regards to pain & suffering and emotional distress from the dog bite. It is also important to note that if the incident occurred on the dog owner’s property, then the owner’s home owners insurance may cover damages. However, even if the homeowner’s insurance does not provide coverage, if the dog’s owner is found liable and at fault you can still legally collect due compensation for your losses. This is also true if the bite occurred in the dog owner’s car or other vehicle (such as an RV or boat).
In Florida, the laws regarding a dog bite result in the dog’s owner most commonly being the defendant. The degree of the owner’s liability can significantly vary, but always keep in mind that the owner is responsible for the dog’s actions whether they had prior knowledge that their animal was in fact vicious or not. Also consider that in Florida that any provoking of the dog or negligence by the victim could limit possible damages rewarded in a lawsuit. Florida law also includes what is known as “the Bad Dog sign exemption”. Unless the person bitten is less than six years old, if the owner has prominently displayed a sign saying “Bad Dog” on their property, then liability is in most cases limited.
If you or a family member has been injured due to a dog bite, you may be entitled to money as compensation for your injuries, medical bills, lost wages and pain & suffering. Please contact us now online or call us at (407) 629-2484 for an absolutely free consultation with no risk or obligation. We are committed to obtaining the best settlement possible for our clients and pride ourselves in providing quality and aggressive legal representation. We also take pride in providing personal service to our clients in all personal injury cases in Orlando, Central Florida and throughout the state of Florida. You can be certain that we understand the urgency and will work diligently to help you recover compensation for your losses.