Articles Posted in Animal Attacks

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Although dogs can constitute loving pets, canine attacks occur every day throughout Florida.  If you have never been bitten by a dog, you might be inclined to assume that most dog bites inflict only minor injuries.  However, approximately 4.5 million people experience dog bites annually in the U.S.  Almost one in five of these individuals suffer an infection.  In 2015, 28,000 people suffered dog bite injuries so severe that they needed reconstructive surgery.  While dog bite victims in Florida might have the right to assert strict liability claims against a dog owner or keeper, the actions of the victim often are asserted as a defense.  In this blog post, our Miami dog bite lawyers analyze an appellate court decision from last year that allowed a lawsuit to move forward to trial after the defendant attempted to shift financial responsibility to the dog bite victim.

The plaintiff was injured by guard dogs obtained by the defendant company K-9 to secure the premises of a business in the neighborhood.  When a K-9 worker returned the next morning to feed the dogs, the employee discovered the business had been burglarized, which allowed the dogs to escape the premises.  The plaintiff discovered the guard dogs in her backyard.  She mistakenly assumed the dogs for friendly pets of a nearby neighbor.  She kept the dogs secured in her yard where she fed and sheltered the animals.  Although she had two pet dogs of her own they were kept segregated in her home.  In attempting to return the dogs to the owner, she notified the neighborhood watch and contacted the local animal shelter. Continue reading →

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Our Miami personal injury attorneys report that State Representative Greg Steube, a Republican from Sarasota, has filed legislation that could change Florida’s laws concerning serious dog bites.  The bill comes in response to a case arising out of Bradenton involving a dog named Padi.  Padi, a Labrador mix, bit off part of a child’s ear over the summer.  He was condemned to euthanasia under Florida’s current law that requires all dogs that inflict serious injury to another person be put to sleep.  No exceptions exist under the law.  Many were outraged by the law’s implications for Padi due to the circumstances of the attack.  Apparently, Padi was in his owner’s office when a child, under the care of a babysitter, entered and began throwing toys at the dog.  Accounts differ from here, with some believing the child lunged at Padi and others saying he went to grab a toy near the dog.  In either case, the incident raised further awareness as to the plight of dogs that bite.

Steube’s bill would offer exceptions in the event the person injured was unlawfully on the property or was abusing the dog.  The bill would not actually help Padi, whose case is currently before a local court and could move to the court of appeal.

Dog Bites and Strict Liability in Florida

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The tragic story about a toddler who was mauled to death by two “mixed breed” dogs earlier this year provides a reminder that dog attacks and bites can cause devastating injuries and even fatalities.  The horrifying story of 18-month-old Declan Moss viciously being mauled by two family dogs while in his grandfather’s care was even more disturbing because last year Florida had four fatal dog attacks, the second highest total in the U.S.  While dog attacks can cause serious injury to people of all ages, children are most susceptible to severe injury or death caused by a vicious dog attack.  Three of the four fatal dog attacks in Florida last year, as well as this most recent tragedy, involved children ages 6 or under.

Our Miami personal injury lawyers at Greenberg Stone and Urbano recognize that a personal injury lawsuit cannot give parents back their child or truly compensate a severely injured victim.  However, financial recovery can provide the monetary resources to promote the fullest recovery and highest quality of life for injured dog mauling survivors.  When dog owners are held financially accountable for the harm their animals cause, the result can be some degree of justice for the victim and an incentive to take steps to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Florida dog bite law favors dog attack victims because there is no state law requirement that dog owners have any reason to know their dog has a propensity for viciousness, such as a prior dog bite.   Florida Statute Section 767.04 imposes strict liability on dog owners for bite injuries that occur when the victim is in a public place or lawfully on private property.  The statute expressly provides that liability can be imposed regardless of any prior viciousness by the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness

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Each year, about 4.5 million people across the nation will suffer dog bites.  These bites require 885,000 trips to emergency rooms and other medical centers.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 30,000 people who are attacked by dogs will require reconstructive surgery every year.  Alarmingly, about half of all dog bite victims are children.

Most dogs are friendly and well trained, but a select few can be extremely vicious and may attack for what appears to be no reason at all.  A dog bite will often inflict serious damage, particularly in children.  Scarring, disfigurement, disease, hospitalization, and even death can result from a serious dog attack.  Our Miami personal injury lawyers have prepared a few tips on how to prevent bites and what you can do if a loved one is bitten:

  1. Keep Young Children Away from Strange Dogs: One of the most common dog attack scenarios involves young children approaching or attempting to play with dogs.  Young children may not understand when a dog is giving off warning signs to leave it alone, and some dogs are triggered by children running.  Teach children to stay away from dogs they do not know and always monitor children with even those dogs that you do know.
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A graphic video was recently released to YouTube depicting a large dog biting a Florida woman’s face after she is drenched in cold water for the popular ice bucket challenge.  The user who posted the video claims that the dog, which she describes as a pit bull, attacked her mother last year without provocation while they were videotaping the ice bucket challenge.

The video begins with footage of small children throwing pans of water on the victim who is dressed in red and seated on a lawn chair.  The victim shouts and stands up.  Then the unthinkable happens.  From the right side of the camera, a large dog jumps up and grabs the woman by the face.  The woman is dragged to the ground by the dog.

Our Miami personal injury lawyers found that the poster of the video, YouTube user emaustin102387, stated that the dog belonged to her sister who kept it for breeding purposes.  The dog was euthanized after the attack.  The user revealed that the victim decided to wait several months before posting the video.  The end of the video depicts a picture of the victim with scars and stitches and an image of the dog.

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Another pit bull attack, another mauled teen….Last Sunday night Yaleniee Martinez was walking her pet chihuahua in her Hialeah apartment complex when they were both attacked by a white pit bull.

Bitten in Several Places

The young girl claims that the pit bull ran out of his house and suddenly charged against her and her smaller pet without provocation. The larger dog managed to pin her against a parked car and bite her multiple times in the face, hand and upper thigh. She was subsequently treated at Palmetto General Hospital and released.

While Hialeah police confirmed the attack, officials from Miami Dade Animal Services stated that the pit bull is being monitored for rabies and had shown no signs so far.

Pit Bulls Are Illegal in Miami Dade

Just a couple of weeks ago Miami Dade voters decided to keep in place a pit bull ban that has been in force in the county since 1989, after a dog thought to be a pit bull ripped apart the face of a 8-year-old in Kendall. There was organized opposition to keeping the ban by residents that feel it unfairly discriminates against pit bulls. Among the opponents was Jamie Buehrle, wife of Miami Marlin’s pitcher Mark Buehrle. The Buehrle family established in Broward County after learning that their pit bull, Slater, could not live in Miami Dade.

However, an overwhelming 63.2 percent of residents voted to keep the ban in place. Moreover, another effort to abolish the ban, that time in the Florida Legislature, was cut short by a group of Miami Dade County commissioners claiming it infringed on the county’s home rule authority.

According to Miami Dade County Animal Services the owner of the dog has five days to claim it before they euthanize it. Moreover, the owner could be fined up to $1,645.00 for the dog being loose in the street, attacking a person and another animal, as well as for violating the pit bull ban.
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