Tuesday, October 25, 2016

I Was Attacked by A Dog. What Legal Resources Do I Have?


Dogs are beloved pets for many Floridians. Long called “man’s best friend,” dogs are most commonly known to be caring, loving, and docile. Sometimes, a dog’s behavior can turn aggressive and an individual can end up being bitten or attacked. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 4.5 million Americans are victims of dog bites each year.1 Additionally, approximately one in 5 bites result in the victim having to seek medical attention for the injury.

Under Florida law, a victim of a dog bite may be able to recover damages.2 In order to recover damages, the victim must bring forth a cause of action under a theory of either negligence, negligence per se, or scienter. If the victim is successful in demonstrating that he or she was a victim of a dog bite under one of the aforementioned theories of liability, he or she may be able to receive compensation for losses as well as potentially additional damages. These damages may include:

Medical Expenses;
Pain and Suffering;
Emotional Distress; and
Lost wages

Negligence

An owner may be liable for a dog bite under a theory of negligence even if he or she was not aware of the dog’s propensity for viciousness. This is true whether or not the victim was bitten in a public place or at the private dwelling of the owner. Under this theory, a dog owner can be negligent simply for failing to exercise effective control of a dog that would be similar to that of a reasonably prudent person. For example, an owner who leaves his dog untethered, even in his own backyard, would be considered negligent if the dog leaves the property and bites a victim.

Negligence Per Se

An owner can also be liable for a dog bite that occurs as a result of a violation of a law enacted for people’s safety. This is known as negligence per se. For example, an owner may violate Florida’s leash law while walking his or her dog in public. At that time, the dog escapes and bites a bystander that tries to pet it. Here, the owner has violated a law designed to keep others safe, and the victim may be able to bring forth a cause of action for damages as a result.

In these instances, it is important to remember that state laws are not the only applicable laws. Instead, different municipalities may enact stricter laws relating to the handling of dogs within the community. An owner’s failure to abide by these municipal codes is sufficient to establish negligence per se.

Scienter

Scienter is a theory of liability that is more commonly referred to in dog-bite cases as “One Bite

Rule.” Under this theory of liability, a victim must demonstrate two elements in order to recover. The victim must show that the dog had previously bitten or attempted to bite another person as well as the fact that the dog’s owner was aware of such conduct. Failure to demonstrate both elements will bar the victim from recovering under this theory of liability. The owner may still be able to recover under a different theory.

Potential Roadblocks to a Victim’s Recovery

It is not a guarantee that an individual will recover damages as a result of being a victim of a dog bite. Many states, including Florida, have different laws that protect owners from absolute liability in dog bite cases.

One of the best-known protections for dogs owners is more commonly referred to as the “Bad Dog” exception. Florida law establishes that an owner may be exempt from liability for a dog bite if the bite occurs on the dog owner’s property and, at the time of the bite, easily readable signs warning of a dog--whether displaying, as an example, “Bad Dog” or “Beware of Dog”--are prominently displayed on the owner’s property. Such signage should have given the victim reasonable notice of the risk of the bite. This is, however, not a complete safeguard as the owner will still be deemed liable if the victim is too young to read the signage.

Non-Bite Injuries

It is important to highlight that Florida law also establishes an ability for a victim to recover for non-bite injuries. Specifically, Florida allows for recovery of “any damages,” including to damage to livestock.3

Contact the Dolman Law Group to Discuss Your Personal Injury Case Today

A dog’s ability to become dangerous and bite at a moment’s notice should not overshadow their lovable nature. Instead, victims of dog bites and attacks should seek to recover the damages to which they are lawfully entitled. At the Dolman Law Group in St. Petersburg, Florida, we will thoroughly investigate your case to ensure you fully recover financially. Call us today at 727-222-6922 for a free consultation.

Dolman Law Group
1663 1St Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922





Friday, October 14, 2016

Pedestrian Accidents Cause Particularly Serious Injuries



Millions of Americans walk along or across roads every day. Whether it be commuting to work, running errands, or just going for a leisurely stroll, pedestrians are an important part of the roadways in most big cities. In Florida, where the year-round warm weather leads to more people being outside, pedestrians are an even more common sight.
Unfortunately, accidents involving pedestrians often result in greater injuries and even death than those involving cars. Without seat belts, air bags and car frames to protect them, pedestrians are at a much greater risk of severe injury or death. In 2013, 4,735 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in the United States alone.1 Accidents involving pedestrians are most likely to happen in urban areas at night and most often take place outside of intersections.
Who Is at Risk?
Children: Children are likely to be involved in pedestrian accidents as they are likely to be in the road unexpectedly and their small size makes them more difficult for drivers to see. In 2013, of all of the children under the age of 14 who died in traffic accidents, one in five was a pedestrian.
Elderly: The elderly are also more likely to be involved in pedestrian accidents. Pedestrians aged 65 and older accounted for 19% of all pedestrians deaths in 2013.
Alcohol-Impaired: Of all of the pedestrian accidents reported that resulted in a death in 2013, 49% involved alcohol consumption, with the pedestrian being over the legal limit in 34% of the fatal accidents.
Typical Injuries for Pedestrians
The nature of a pedestrian accident is that there is no protection from being hit by the full force of an oncoming vehicle. Without the additional protection that cars afford, injuries to pedestrians tend to be more severe in nature and are more likely to require emergency medical attention. Many are fatal.
Injuries to pedestrians can be primary or secondary. Primary injuries occur at the point of impact. Secondary injuries are inflicted when the impacts pushes the pedestrian into another solid object, like a wall, or when they hit the ground. For example, a primary injury of a broken rib may happen when a car hits a pedestrian. That same pedestrian may suffer a secondary injury of a broken arm when they are flung into a light pole nearby.
While the kinds and severity of pedestrian injuries range with each case, some of the most common include:
Lacerations, contusions, and scrapes – These more minor injuries will occur in nearly every collision involving a pedestrian. While generally mild, they should still be treated by a doctor to ensure that there are no underlying injuries (such as an internal bleed) and that no infections will develop from any open cuts.
Broken Bones – Pedestrians who have been struck by a car often suffer broken


bones as a result of the collision. Broken bones can be set at a hospital and in most cases the pedestrian will make a full recovery.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) – Traumatic brain injuries2 occur when some sort of external force acts in such a way that brain function is disturbed or impaired. TBIs usually result from a heavy blow to the head or body and can result in bleeding, skull fractures, and even death. More minor TBIs will usually result in bruising and tissue damage. Symptoms can include loss of consciousness, confusion, nausea, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, blurred vision, mood changes, vomiting, depression, memory problems, seizures, numbness in extremities, slurred speech, and falling into a coma.
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) – Spinal cord injuries occur when damage is done to any part of the spinal cord or to the nerves surrounding the ends of the spinal cord. This is usually caused by impact to the neck or back. Symptoms may include weakness, problems with coordination, muscle spasms, numbness, pain, loss of mobility, and loss of use of limbs and extremities.
Soft tissue injury – A soft tissue injury is the most common type of minor injury suffered in auto accidents. Essentially it is a strain, sprain or bruising of muscles, tendons, or ligaments throughout the body. The symptoms usually are pain, stiffness, weakness, minor loss of use of the affected area, and loss of range of motion. Treatment usually involves physical therapy and some combination of muscle relaxers and/or pain medication.
Accidents involving a vehicle and a pedestrian can be complex. Given the potentially severe consequences for the pedestrian involved, if you are a pedestrian who has been hit by a vehicle, you should contact a Florida injury attorney right away to ensure that you recover all that you are entitled to.
Contact a St. Petersburg Pedestrian Accident Attorney Today for a Free Consultation!
If you or a loved one has been involved in a pedestrian accident, contact a St. Petersburg pedestrian accident lawyer at the Dolman Law Group right away. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call our office today at 727-222-6922 or send us an email through our online contact form.

Dolman Law Group
1663 1St Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712