Dog Bites

Clearwater Dog Bite Attorney

Legal Guidance and Support For Dog Bite Claims in Florida

Many states throughout the United States apply the "one-bite rule" in personal injury cases involving dog attacks. The one-bite rule dates back hundreds of years to the English common law, and it holds that a dog's owner is not legally responsible for the first time his or her dog attacks another person. Unless the dog has a history of attacking humans, or of behaving as though it wanted to attack a human, the victim of a bite does not have grounds to pursue financial compensation. In other words, the one-bite rule makes it necessary to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the animal's owner was negligent in preventing the attack from occurring. If you or a family member has been bitten in Clearwater, you will be glad to learn that Florida state law takes a more modern approach to the matter of dog bite claims.

Florida law holds a dog owner strictly liable for injuries caused by the animal. Under the terms of Florida Statutes §767.04, "Dog owner's liability for damages to persons bitten," a dog owner is responsible for bites occurring on public or private property, regardless of whether the animal has a history of violence or of vicious behavior. Some dogs tend to be more aggressive than others, but any dog has the capability of turning vicious at any time, often without warning, and can cause devastating injuries and disfigurement to the victim of the attack. In light of this, the law allows you to claim compensation for your medical bills, your lost income and the pain, suffering and emotional distress you have been forced to experience.

Legal Defenses in Dog Bite Cases

It is important to note, however, that the Florida dog bite statute does provide certain defenses against a claim such as yours. To begin with, the defense in your case may attempt to reduce the dog owner's liability by claiming that you were in some way negligent and that this caused or contributed to the attack. For example, they may argue that you provoked the attack. The statute provides that the amount of financial recovery possible in a dog bite claim is reduced according to the percentage of contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff. When we represent you, we will invest the time in developing evidence to thwart any defense along those lines. prove that the attack was entirely the fault of the dog's owner and to absolve you of any alleged negligence.

Another issue in dog bite personal injury claims is the question of whether or not the plaintiff was lawfully present on the property where the attack occurred, if the incident took place in a residence or other private property. For example, trespassers are not entitled to claim monetary damages under the dog bite law. If you were on the property as a guest, customer or client of the dog's owner, or were there to perform a lawful duty such as delivering mail or working as emergency services personnel, it should be possible to establish that you were lawfully present at the time of the attack.

Finally, the defense may attempt to defeat your claim with evidence that the dog's owner had displayed a "Bad Dog" sign in a prominent position on the property. The dog bite statute provides that the presence of such a sign will defend the dog's owner from being held liable for an attack. This protection does not apply, however, in cases where the victim was a child younger than 6 years of age, or if the attack was proximately caused by a negligent act or omission on the part of the dog owner.

Contact Our Clearwater Dog Bite Lawyer Today

Bring your dog bite claim to the team of Clearwater personal injury lawyers at Cope, Zebro & Crawford, P.L. We have more than 45 years of combined experience, and have worked on both sides of dog bite cases from start to finish. If at all possible, we will seek to settle your claim out of court, an approach which is often suitable to dog bite cases where the parties are friends or neighbors who want to avoid adversarial litigation. In the event that the insurance company refuses to pay you a fair settlement, however, we will not hesitate to take your case to trial in pursuit of the full amount that you deserve. We work on contingency, so you will not have to pay us a fee out of pocket to begin the process. Take the first step now by contacting us for a free case evaluation.

Hear From Our Happy Clients

At Cope, Zebro & Crawford, P.L., your satisfaction is our priority! See for yourself what our clients have to say about working with us.

  • “Thomas Cope is an outstanding lawyer!”
    Mr. Cope is an outstanding attorney. He has helped me tremendously throughout multiple cases. Mr. Cope will remain my attorney for life.
    - Lynzy
  • “Highly recommend”
    I couldn't recommend anybody better than Mr. Cope. He's professional and thorough. I've never dealt with an attorney as sufficient as Mr. Cope. He's very knowledgeable and keeps you informed through your entire case. Due to Mr. Cope and how he handled my case it ran extremely smooth. I will never deal with any other attorney.
    - Anonymous
  • “DUI-Thomas Cope did an outstanding job on my case”
    Thomas Cope did an outstanding job on my case. He is a great attorney and I would recommend him to anyone who has legal troubles. I trusted him and he kept me informed and told me exactly what I needed to do. I would like to thank him and his firm for the awesome job he did for me.
    - Derek
  • “Excellent results”
    I used Thomas Cope for a bad accident that I was involved in. I never leave reviews, but with the amazing results that he got for me I couldn't help but to leave a good review. He did a great job keeping me informed throughout the case. He went above and beyond for me and I cannot express my appreciation enough. Great guy and firm to work with.
    - Jeremy
  • “Excellent”
    I am a business owner and Mr Cope help me solve my issue. I highly recommend Mr. Cope
    - Vince
  • “The BEST lawyer EVER!!!”
    Tom Cope helped me through a difficult DUI. He told me all I needed to know and it helped more than anyone will ever know. I am very thankful that I had him as an attorney.
    - Amanda

Contact Cope, Zebro & Crawford, P.L. Today!

Take Action Now – Contact Us for a Free Consultation!

A member of our team will be in touch shortly to confirm your contact details or address questions you may have.

  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.
  • By submitting, you agree to be contacted about your request & other information using automated technology. Message frequency varies. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to cancel. Acceptable Use Policy