In Florida, dog owners are responsible to ensure that their pets have been vaccinated against rabies. This is in part because if the animal bites another person, the owner can be held responsible for any damages that resulted from the attack, including medical bills. While medical bills for a dog or other animal bite can be expensive for an owner, rabies can be fatal for the person who was bitten.
Those who have contracted rabies may experience symptoms that are extremely similar to the flu. These symptoms, which can include fever, headache, general weakness and discomfort, can last for several days. As the disease progresses, the affected person may begin to feel discomfort around the area where they were bitten. Additionally, they may begin to show abnormal behavior and experience hallucinations, insomnia , anxiety, confusion and cerebral dysfunction. This period of illness can last two to 10 days.
Once the affected person begins to show these signs, the potential for survival rapidly decreases. In fact, less than 10 individuals who were diagnosed with rabies have survived to date. As a result, those who are bitten by an unknown or wild animal are recommended to seek immediate treatment. This usually includes an injection of a passive antibody, an injection of immune globulin and a round of rabies vaccinations.
Those who suffered a dog bite or a bite from another animal may hold the owner of that animal liable by filing a personal injury lawsuit against them. In the state of Florida, no negligence on behalf of the animal owner needs to be proven in order for their to be grounds to file a lawsuit. The injured person could potentially seek compensation for the cost of medical bills and any wages that were lost.
Source: CDC, “What are the signs and symptoms of rabies?“, October 20, 2014