A Dog Bite Can Be Deadly and Can Land the Dog’s Owner in Jail

by Shapiro Goldman Babboni Fernandez & Walsh
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This past August, a Florida Panhandle man was convicted of manslaughter when his two dogs viciously attacked his seven year old neighbor as the boy was riding his bike. The jury found the dog’s owner responsible for failing to contain his dogs. He could get 15 years in jail at sentencing.

Dog attacks continue to be a problem both in Florida and across the country. In 2012, 38 people died after being attacked by a dog, about half of them young children. Most of the deadly attacks were by pit bulls.

Dog attacks can cause serious lifelong injuries or death

Florida law states that dog owners are responsible for the damages caused by their dogs regardless of whether there was a history of violence. Dog owners are held accountable even if they had no prior knowledge that their dogs could be dangerous. In situations where the victim was also responsible for instigating the dog, the award will be reduced accordingly. The problem is that there is often nothing to recover if the owner has limited assets and no insurance. The fact that the dog is euthanized does not help the victims pay their medical bills or compensate them for a lifetime of pain, suffering and disfigurement. The criminal conviction of the dog’s owner will not bring back the child killed by a vicious dog.

The most common injuries sustained from a dog attack include:

  • Lacerations and permanent scars
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of limbs
  • Nerve damage
  • Infection
  • Rabies

Injuries caused by dog attacks typically require long hospital stays, plastic surgery, and many months of physical therapy, counseling and psychiatric treatment.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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