Q: Can victims develop psychological injuries after a dog bite?

A person can suffer not only physical damage, but also severe psychological injuries after a dog bite. Victims may suffer severe mental effects, and some of those effects may continue to be manifest for years. For this reason, the mental health effects of dog bites are often considered even more dangerous than the physical injuries that can heal.

Emotional scarring is a very real fact of life for victims of dog bites. These emotional injuries can manifest themselves in different ways, such as through depression, anxiety, trauma, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

What is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a mental health condition that very often develops after a person has been exposed to a dangerous, terrifying, or potentially life-threatening situation. A dog bite may fall into that situation.

A person, especially a young child, who is being attacked by a dog may genuinely believe himself to be in a life-or-death situation. That can result in extreme trauma that can manifest itself in a number of symptoms.

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Emotional or social withdrawal
  • Insomnia
  • Fear of dogs  
  • Depression
  • Irrational fears
  • Problems concentrating at work or at school
  • Irritability

Moreover, people who suffer from PTSD may also be much more likely to suffer from substance abuse, antisocial behaviors, and suicidal tendencies.

What are the other mental-health issues a person can face after a dog bite?

Dog bite victims also often struggle with feelings of guilt. This is especially so in the case of young children who may be scolded by parents for having petted the dog.

Victims may suffer panic attacks, and symptoms of depression that include helplessness, irritability, anger, loss of energy, weight loss, loss of appetite, and reckless behavior. They may also suffer symptoms of anxiety that include panic, helplessness, cold and/or sweaty hands, heart palpitations, numbness in the feet and hands, and dry mouth.

Can I recover damages for psychological injuries after a dog bite?

You may recover damages for mental health and psychological consequences of dog bite attacks in the form of pain and suffering damages. Your dog bite claim may include damages for the emotional pain and suffering and mental trauma you have undergone.

Your dog bites do not have to be severe for you to recover damages for mental harm. Remember, that even a small or moderate bite could result in major emotional damage.

To learn how you can file a claim for emotional pain and suffering and mental trauma after a dog bite, discuss your case with dog bite attorney Tony Francis today. Call The Francis Law Group at 407-363-9939 or fill out a contact form to speak with a lawyer.

Q:  Can I recover damages for PTSD after a dog bite?

Each state is responsible for setting its set of laws surrounding dogs,dog bites, and dog owner liability. In Florida, the state imposes a strict liability law.

However, the following legal theories may also be applied to a dog bite claim.

  • Negligence
  • Negligence per se
  • Intentional tort

The following considers whether or not a person can recover damages for PTSD after a dog bite (post-traumatic stress disorder).

Florida Strict Liability Dog Bite Laws

Florida is a strict liability dog bite state. Under Florida 2015 Statutes Section 767.04, “The owner of any dog that bites any person…is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.”

In other words, this law means that as long a person is in a public place or is legally within a private property at the time of a dog attack, the owner will be held liable for damages.

Damages that the owner may be responsible for include the following.

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Other economic losses

Damages for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are recoverable under damages for “pain and suffering” after you have reported your dog bite attack.

Other Theories of Liability

While you do not have to prove negligence in Florida to recover damages, you can pursue a negligence-based claim. Doing so may expand the amount and the types of damages that you can recover.

A negligence, negligence per se, or intentional tort claim may be filed directly against the dog’s owner to recover damages for PTSD. These claims allege that the dog’s owner violated a law or acted in an unreasonable manner regarding the dog, that the dog owner violated a statute intended to protect people’s safety, or that the dog owner intentionally caused the dog bite (i.e. order the dog to attack), respectively.

When the Dog Owner Will Not Be Held Liable

If you have been bitten by a dog and are seeking damages, including damages for PTSD, you should know that there are two circumstances in which a dog owner may not be liable for your injuries and damages. The first is if the dog owner was displaying a sign that read, “Bad Dog” on his or her property (and it occurred on the property) unless the victim was under the age of six. The other exception is if the victim’s negligence contributed to the dog bite, i.e. the victim was taunting the dog.

Consult with an Orlando Dog Bite Attorney to Learn More

Post-traumatic stress disorder can be a serious and debilitating ailment. If you are suffering from PTSD from a dog bite, you should meet with an Orlando dog bite attorney to learn more about your right to recover damages, and under which theory of liability you should seek compensation. At The Francis Law Group, you can meet with an attorney to review your case today. To begin, call 407-363-9939 to schedule a consultation today.

 Q: Does the breed of the dog matter in my dog bite claim?

According to Florida Statute §767.04, "The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness."

This means that regardless of the dog's breed, an owner can be held liable for his or her dog's actions against another person.

Even though breed does not matter in most cases, classification as a "dangerous dog" may be an important factor in your dog bite claim. A dog may be classified as dangerous by an animal control authority if it exhibits any of the following behaviors.

A reported and verified history of unprovoked aggression (such as chasing people down the street, approaching a person while lunging and snarling, etc.).

  • Previously attacked, endangered or severely injured a person.
  • Severely injured a domestic animal while off its owner's property.
  • When a Dog Owner May Not Be Liable for in a Dog Bite Claim

The full text of Florida Statute §767.04 explains that there are some circumstances in which a dog's owner may not be liable for your dog bite claim. The statute states that any negligence on the part of the dog bite victim may limit or remove the liability of the owner for the damages done by his or her dog.

For example, if you were trespassing on the property where the dog was kept and the owner had a posted sign warning of the dog's presence, the owner may not be liable for your injuries. The negligence and trespassing rules do not apply to dog bite victims younger than age 6 because it is not reasonable that a young child would understand the danger of approaching another's dog.

When Dog Breed May Matter in a Dog Bite Claim

Florida Statute Chapter 767 provides the full laws for damage done by dogs. In this chapter, section 14 states that local governments cannot create additional laws regarding specific breed restrictions. This means state law regarding dog attack liability supersedes any local laws.

However, specific residential restrictions such as apartment complexes and HOAs may have their own private breed restrictions in place. You still may have the ability to file a dog bite claim if you live in a residential system that bans certain breeds of dogs within their limits, and the dog that bit you was of one of these restricted breeds.

In cases such as these, where you may be liable for your own negligence due to trespassing or provoking the dog, yet the owner may be liable for keeping a breed restricted by your housing authority, it's best to have an Orlando dog bite attorney to help you file and settle your injury claim.

An Orlando Dog Bite Attorney Can Help You Determine Dog Bite Liability

It takes a lot of evidence to prove that your own actions did not contribute to another person's dog attacking you. Let The Francis Law Group help you file your dog bite claim and take care of proving liability for you. Fill out our online contact form or call us directly at 407-363-9939 to schedule a free consultation regarding your right to recovery.

 Q:  What should I do if a dog attacks me?

While easier said than done, the most important thing you can do during a dog attack is; stay calm. By staying calm and in control you may be able to diffuse a dog’s aggression and avoid a more significant confrontation. 

A dog attack can be a serious and life-threatening situation.  Joggers, runners, bicyclists and others know all too well the problem of suddenly being pursued, snapped at, or bitten by a loose, aggressive dog.  Being prepared for a dog attack could protect you from critical injury. So, you must be wondering, what should I do if a dog attacks me?

You should avoid eye contact with the dog and stand motionless. Do not wave your arms around or kick with your legs; the dog may perceive these actions as threatening.  Stand sideways about the dog.  This gives the dog less of an area to latch onto in the event that it tries to bite.  You should also keep the dog in your peripheral vision instead of facing it. This will signal to the dog that you are not a threat.

Should I try to run away?

Do not attempt to run away.  This will likely only excite the dog.  Dogs chase and catch their prey.  By running, you activate the dog’s instinct to hunt its prey, even if it was initially only interested in playing with you.  Again, staying calm and letting the dog lose interest is your best option.  Also, you can try distracting the dog with food, shoes, or anything else the dog could chew on.

What do I do if a dog begins to bite me?

If the dog nips at you, you've got to defend yourself. Dog attacks can be fatal.  Use any means necessary to protect yourself.  Hit or kick the dog in the throat, nose, and the back of the head. This will stun the dog and give you time to get away.

You should also use your weight and size to your advantage. Use your knees, elbows and forearms to press down on the throat and ribs of the dog.  You may be able to break the dog’s ribs causing it to retreat from the attack.  If you are looking for a more humane solution and can manage it, straddle the back of the dog with your partial body weight and apply forward pressure to the back of the neck to immobilize the dog until help comes.

If you fall to the ground during the attack, protect your face chest and throat.  Also, resist the urge to scream, it will likely continue to excite the dog. Hopefully, the dog will eventually lose interest and leave you alone. 

You should immediately call the authorities following a dog attack.  It's important to determine whether an attacking dog has rabies or a history of aggression.  Also to consider, the owners of aggressive dogs can be worse than the dogs. If you have to injure or kill an attacking dog, get away from the area and call the police as soon as possible.

You should also seek medical treatment as quickly as possible.  Dogs carry diseases that could be very harmful if left untreated, specifically, rabies.  Further, any bites or scratch wounds could become infected if not properly treated.

Francis Law Group knows what to do with your case after a dog attack. Call our Orlando-based dog bite attorneys to file a claim against the owner of a vicious dog: (888) 521-2721.

 Q: How to Report a Dog Attack Top of Form

Each year, over 600 Floridians are hospitalized for dog bite injuries, according to the Florida Department of Health. If ever you or your loved one is attacked by or bitten by a dog, read on to find out how to report a dog attack: why it is important and where you can do it. To hold the owner liable, you will need to prove negligence using a dog bite attorney.

Importance of Reporting a Dog Attack

There are three main reasons that it’s so important for victims to report dog bite incidents with the local authorities.

  • Obtaining info: In many cases, owners of vicious dogs won’t speak to victims. You still deserve a right to know what the owner’s stance is, and whether or not he or she will be supportive of your case. When you report a dog attack, you will be able to review the finalized report, which usually contains statements from the dog owner and the witnesses.
  • Community safety: Animal control is charged with keeping the community safe from dangerous animals. If they don’t know where the danger is, they cannot do their job. By reporting the dog attack, animal control can know where to increase street patrol so they can better protect the community.
  • Liability: Filing a dog bite report will help support your case if you need to file a liability claim against the owner. The report you file may contain information about the dog’s bite history, which could be a valuable piece of evidence in your case.

Where to Report a Dog Attack

You will need to determine which agency in your community is responsible for animal control. You may need to report the incident to one or more of these institutions.

  • The health department
  • The animal control department
  • The Humane Society
  • The Society for the Protection of Animals
  • The dog warden
  • The police department

Some communities have a specific hotline for making attack reports. For example, in Orlando, victims can report a dog attack with the Orange County Animal Services by just dialing 3-1-1, or by calling (407) 836-3111.

If you’re unsure of where to report a dog attack in your community, you can call the local police or health department and inquire about the proper agency to contact.

Seeking Legal Help after a Dog Attack

In addition to filing a report with animal control, if you or your loved one sustained injury in the attack, you’ll also want to consult a local personal injury attorney for advice. Your lawyer will be able to explain your legal options and help you take legal action to pursue compensation for your injuries.

For a injury firm in Orlando that handles all types of dog-related cases, call the Francis Law Group. Contact us today at 407-363-9939 for a free, no-obligation consultation.