Animal Attacks

Animal Attack Attorneys in Gainesville

Were You Injured by a Loose Dog or Other Animal?

Being attacked by an animal can be a frightening and traumatic experience. If you or a loved one were the victim of a dog bite, you should seek immediate medical care and report the attack to your county's animal services or sheriff's department. In order to protect your legal rights, time is of the essence. Florida has a strict liability dog bite statute but identifying the animal that attacked you is an important first step.

If you believe the animal was a stray, you should provide law enforcement officials with a detailed description of the animal and the exact location of the attack.

At Schackow & Mercadante, our legal team will conduct an immediate investigation to:

  • Secure and preserve evidence
  • Track down and interview witnesses
  • Establish the dog's ownership
  • Identify other responsible parties
  • Report the incident to animal control
  • Obtain medical evaluation of injuries

Common Causes of Animal Attacks

An animal attackĀ refers to any incident where a person is injured by an animal. This can happen in various settings, including encounters with domestic pets, wildlife, or animals kept in captivity, like those in zoos or animal sanctuaries.

Common reasons for animal attacks include:

  • Provocation: Animals may attack if they feel threatened or provoked. This could be due to someone getting too close, making sudden movements, or engaging in behaviors that the animal perceives as aggressive.
  • Protection of Territory or Offspring: Some animals, particularly those in the wild, may attack to defend their territory or offspring. Encountering a mother animal with her young can be particularly risky as she may perceive humans as a threat.
  • Fear or Surprise: Animals may attack if they feel scared or surprised. This can happen if a person accidentally approaches too closely or startles the animal.
  • Hunger or Predatory Instincts: In some cases, animals may attack humans if they are hungry or if they perceive humans as prey. This is more common in wildlife encounters, especially in areas where human development has encroached upon natural habitats.
  • Disease or Injury: Sick or injured animals may behave unpredictably and may be more likely to attack out of confusion, fear, or pain.
  • Training or Enclosure Issues: In cases involving domestic animals or animals kept in captivity, attacks may occur due to inadequate training, mistreatment, or poorly maintained enclosures.
  • Unpredictable Behavior: While some animals are generally docile, any animal has the potential to attack under certain circumstances. Factors such as age, breed, and individual temperament can influence an animal's behavior.

Florida Dog Bite Laws

Florida follows a strict liability rule for dog bites. This means that dog owners are typically held liable for injuries caused by their dogs, regardless of whether the owner knew about the dog's dangerous tendencies or the dog's history of aggression.

Section 767.04 of the Florida StatutesĀ applies when a dog bites someone and causes injury, including both physical injuries and emotional trauma. If the dog's actions result in other forms of harm, such as property damage, the statute may not apply.

There's an exception to strict liability if the person who was bitten was trespassing on the owner's property at the time of the incident. In such cases, the dog owner may not be held liable unless they acted with gross negligence.

Keep in mind that Florida follows the doctrine of comparative negligence. This means that if the person bitten by the dog was partially at fault for the incident, their compensation may be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault.

How We Can Help

At Schackow & Mercadante, we understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll that animal attacks can take on victims and their families. Our experienced team of attorneys is dedicated to advocating for the rights of those injured in such incidents.

We offer compassionate support and strategic legal guidance to navigate the complexities of personal injury claims involving animal attacks. From investigating the circumstances of the incident to negotiating with insurance companies or litigating in court, we are committed to pursuing the maximum compensation our clients deserve.

If you've been injured by a dog or other animal, contact us at (352) 261-6767.

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Designation as a "Dangerous Dog"

Under Florida law, if a dog bites or attacks another person, the owner may face civil liability. In turn, the dog may be designated as a "dangerous dog" for which the owner must make special arrangements for keeping the animal. If a dangerous dog is left uncontrolled and kills someone, the owner can be charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence. However, if the dog bit someone who was committing a crime or the dog was protecting a human who was under attack, the owner will not be guilty of any crime. Documenting a dog bite case can be a complex process.  

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