Dog bites can cause lifelong disfigurement and phobias. They must be taken seriously, and Florida does. Florida is one of the few states that has specific dog bite statutes, laid out in Chapter 767 of the 2021 Florida Statutes. If you’ve been bitten, you need to understand these statutes.
Our dog bite injury lawyers in Melbourne at Andrew Pickett Law have information about this law and what you need to do after you’ve been bitten. Read it, then contact our office for a free consultation.
Strict Liability Under Florida Law
Many other states use a “one free bite” law under the idea that an owner can’t be liable if they don’t know the dog was aggressive. Florida does not. Under the strict liability rule, the owner of a dog who bites someone is liable for covering the damages, period.
It’s not limited to people either. If a dog attacks another domestic animal or livestock, the owner of those animals can sue the dog owner for the damage or loss of those animals. A dog can even be killed if the shooter can prove the dog had killed or was caught killing one of the shooter’s animals.
For a free legal consultation with a dog bite lawyer serving Melbourne, call 321-503-4014
First Steps to Take After a Dog Bite Attack
Before contacting a dog bite injury lawyer in Melbourne, FL, the very first thing you should do is seek medical attention if it’s a serious attack. If you are not badly harmed, take photos of the dog and your injuries and seek witnesses to the attack. If you can, get the owner’s name and contact information.
Then, contact the police and animal control to report the attack and create a record. This will document the attack and help the state determine if the dog has attacked anyone in the past. After you’ve made your report, go see a doctor to get a medical examination.
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Are Guard Dogs Liable for Bites?
The law has an exception for dog bite liability for guard dogs, but certain rules must be followed. First, the owner must have a sign that says “Bad Dog” or “Beware of Dog” displayed clearly. Second, the attack must have happened on the owner’s property. Lastly, the owner must have no negligence in the attack.
If these rules are followed, the owner cannot be sued unless the person is under the age of six. An example of owner negligence would be a dog breaking through a perimeter fence to bite someone on the sidewalk in front of the owner’s house.
What If the Owner Isn’t Handling the Dog?
This is where the rules get a bit murkier. Let’s say an owner hands their dog over to a dog walker. During the walk, the dog bites someone. Who is responsible, the owner or the dog walker?
In this case, the courts may decide to fall back on the older common law route since the statute only mentions owners. If you’ve been bit by a dog and are in this situation, you’ll need the help of our dog bite injury lawyers in Melbourne to fight for your right to compensation.
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Is Comparative Liability Applicable in Dog Bite Cases?
Florida does recognize that the victim in an accident may have played a role in getting hurt. Let’s say teens tease a dog until the dog attacks them. The teasing gives them a percentage of the responsibility.
Florida will reduce the amount of compensation the victim can receive by their percentage of fault. The state uses a pure comparative fault rule, so as long as the victim is less than 100% at fault they can claim compensation under the law.
Get Further Guidance From a Melbourne Dog Bite Lawyer
Florida’s dog bite law makes deciding who is at fault and when for a dog bite far clearer. Our Melbourne dog bite injury lawyers can help you gather evidence of the attack and file a strong claim against the owner’s insurance. Strict liability makes this much easier than other personal injury cases.
If your attack does happen to fall into one of the edge cases of the statute, we can give you specific guidance once we know the details. Contact Andrew Pickett Law by phone or through our contact form to schedule a free consultation if you need help after a dog bite attack.