Florida Dog Bite Laws
While dogs are considered man’s best friend, they can occasionally lash out and cause serious injuries. In the event that a dog causes injury to another person, the injured party may be able to seek compensation for their damages and losses through a Florida dog bite lawsuit. Many states have adopted a “one bite rule,” which permits some leniency in the law for the first time a dog bites someone. In these situations, the dog must not have displayed obvious signs of aggression before. Florida, however, is not one of those states. Under Florida law, owners of dogs are Strictly liable for any attack.
Florida Statute section 767.04 governs the law pertaining to dog bite injuries. Florida’s dog bite statute states that a dog owner is responsible for injuries if: (1) the dog bites another person; and (2) the person is in a public place or lawfully in a private place. While this statute covers only dog bites, individuals who are injured by a dog in another way may pursue damages if they can show that the owner’s negligence or failure to use reasonable care resulted in their injuries. For instance, in situations where a person is knocked down and injured by an unleashed dog. Florida’s statute of limitations requires that an injured person file their lawsuit within 4 years of the date of the dog bite. If an injured party does not file their civil action within that time frame, the court is likely to throw the case out.
Under Florida law, owners of dogs are strictly liable for any injuries caused by their animals. In other words, Florida dog owners may be held liable if their dog bites someone even if the owner had no prior knowledge or warning that the dog might bite. This also means that victims of dog bite injuries do not need to establish that the dog owner was negligent; it is enough to simply prove ownership of the dog.
However, the law only applies to individuals who are lawfully either on the property of the dog’s owner or in a public place. A person who is trespassing on private property without permission is not “lawfully” on that property. In this situation, a dog bite owner could argue that the injured party was trespassing and is not entitled to damages.
Moreover, if the injured party is deemed to be in any way negligent in bringing about their own injuries, typically by provoking the dog, their damages would be reduced by their own percentage of fault. This is commonly referred to as comparative negligence. Under this theory, the amount of damages that an owner must pay is reduced by a percentage equal to the percentage of blame assigned to the injured party.
Florida law also uses “dangerous dog laws” to label canines that have injured or posed a threat to people in the past. Dangerous dogs are typically impounded and in certain unfortunate circumstances, can be put down if the injuries they cause are severe. Owners of dangerous dogs must adhere to strict court orders that may require them to keep the dog secured on the owner’s property at all times and not be allowed to go for walks. An experienced attorney specializing in dog bites will be able to check public records to see if a dog has been officially deemed dangerous in the past as this will increase an injured party’s chance of securing recovery for their losses and damages.
If you or a loved one has recently been the victim of a dog attack, you may be entitled to compensation through a Florida dog bite lawsuit. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Wittmer & Linehan PLLC have extensive experience handling all types of Florida injury claims, including those involving dog bites. To learn more, contact our office at 941-263-8314.