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Dog Bite Claims

The laws in most states make dog owners responsible if their dogs bite someone. In some states, a dog owner is automatically responsible even if the dog had never before acted aggressively or bitten someone. However, in other states the owner has to first have reason to know that his or her dog is aggressive and may bite and then the owner must, unreasonably, fail to take measures to protect others from being bitten.

For example, in Florida, a dog owner is automatically liable to anyone bitten by his or her dog so long as the person bitten is not a trespasser on private property. Even a person who is on private property and NOT a trespasser may not recover money damages from the owner if the owner posts in a prominent place on his or her property an easily readable sign saying “bad dog.” Of course, a child of six years or younger is presumed not to be able to read such a sign, and may still recover damages from the dog owner even if such a sign exists. No matter what, unless the person bitten is too young to know better, a person who negligently provokes a dog cannot recover all of his damages. His or her damages will be reduced by the amount of fault attributed to his or her provocation of the dog.

In Virginia, on the other hand, the owner of a dog is generally not responsible for damages caused by their dog’s bite if the dog has never before bitten anybody. This is called the “one free bite” rule. Obviously, if the dog has a history of biting people, then the owner is responsible for a dog bite. Even if the dog has never before bitten anyone, however, if the owner has done anything that was in and of itself negligent, like failing to follow the law requiring the dog to be on a leash, than the owner may still be held responsible. Similar to Florida any negligence of the person bitten is taken into account, but in Virginia, if the person bitten was negligent (by say provoking the dog), then the person bitten can make no recovery at all, whereas in Florida the bitten person’s recovery would be reduced by his or her percentage of fault.

The first thing you should do if bitten by a dog is find out the identity of the owner so you can discover if the dog has been vaccinated for rabies. This is critically important. If you are infected, rabies can be deadly and for that reason, if you don’t know if the dog has been vaccinated, you may have to undergo rabies treatment as a preventative measure. This is a difficult treatment requiring many injections of vaccine. Your physician should be consulted immediately.

I specialize in helping clients collect fair compensation for injuries caused by the negligence of others, including damages caused by dog bites. Unfortunately, a lot of the folks I have helped have been the parents of young children bitten by dogs. More often than not, when a dog bites a child, the child is bitten in the face or neck because the child is not tall enough to avoid these bites. Adults are more often that not bitten in the hands or legs. Dog bites to a child’s face can result in terrible scarring requiring plastic surgery to lessen the damage. This can be quite expensive. If a dog bites you or family members, I can help. I have extensive experience in these types of claims.

For the past 25 years, the Florida Bar has recognized my expertise in trying cases to juries by awarding me the designation of Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney. Not every lawyer is awarded this designation. This is a prestigious designation that recognizes my experience in the area of civil trial. It is only awarded to trial attorneys who meet rigorous experience and examination requirements, and who are recommended for the award by other trial attorneys and judges. Other lawyers have given me the highest rating for competence and trustworthiness a lawyer can achieve (an AV rating) in a publication called Martindale Hubbell. This business rates the competence and reputation of lawyers throughout the world. Check it out. Martindale Hubbell is online.

Consequently, when you ask me to help you recover money to pay your medical bills, to reimburse you for lost wages and to compensate you for your suffering, I know what will be useful and persuasive to maximize the amount of money you will recover to compensate you. I know how to competently preserve, gather, and present, the evidence that will support your claim so that you receive fair compensation – quickly. If I am presenting your claim for compensation, the insurance company (and/or the lawyers for the responsible dog owner) know that if they don’t offer you the money you are due, you have the help of an attorney who can, and will, effectively present your case to a jury – so that you or our family member will recover fair compensation. However, because of my reputation, about 99% of the claims I have presented have been fairly settled without the delays and expenses of a lawsuit.

I carefully limit the number of cases I agree to take. By choosing only to represent those that have been seriously injured, or have family members who have been seriously injured or suffered death due to someone else’s negligence, I can dedicate my time to fully developing the claim to maximize the amount of money that will be paid as compensation for injuries, lost wages, and medical expenses.

If your loved one has been bitten by a dog or other animal, but are not sure whether you have suffered a serious injury, I will gladly speak with you in a free consultation to give you my opinion about your case. Please feel free to call me at (434) 295-6659 to tell me what happened and describe your injuries. When you call that number, I will either answer the telephone or you will get my personal voice mail. If you get my voice mail and leave your name and telephone number, I will personally return your call, usually within an hour of your call.

If you are more comfortable emailing to me a description of what happened, please fill out the confidential contact form on every page of this website, and I will get back to you with an analysis of whether or not you have a valid dog bite claim.

If we work together on your case, you will have my personal attention to every detail of your claim and you will never reach me through an assistant or secretary or para-legal assistant- but will always be able to speak to me directly on my cell phone. You will also always be able to text to me at the telephone number provided above or send an email to me at (reed@tolberlaw.com). In this way, you will always know what is going on in your case and you can always contact me quickly with any new developments or information that I should know. If you want to verify that this is indeed how I practice law, I will gladly to provide the names and contact information of past clients (who have agreed to be contacted) so that you can verify that I give personal attention to each and every case.

When you or a family member are bitten by a dog, you should hire a lawyer he or she can trust to competently evaluate the claim, determine the correct amount of damages you should recover, and provide appropriate legal advice. I am that lawyer, and I welcome your call so that we can have a conversation to determine whether your injuries justify a claim for damages.