Some of Florida’s dog bite laws are outlined in Florida Statutes § 767.04, and they explain who would be liable if a dog attacks someone. Generally, the dog’s owner is responsible for paying the victim’s damages.
If you were in a public place, or lawfully on a private property when you were bitten, the dog’s owner could owe you compensation. It is the dog owner’s duty to ensure others are safe around their pet.
However, If the person who was bitten provoked the dog, they could be held liable. The dog’s owner may also be exempt from liability if they warned property visitors of the dangerous dog with a “Bad Dog” sign unless the attack victim was six years old or younger. If you were bitten by a dog, our dog bite injury lawyer can explain your legal options.
Florida’s Dangerous Dog Laws
Florida, like many other states, uses a legal system to classify “dangerous dogs.”
The process works by first classifying a dog as dangerous. To do so, a relevant authority reviews the case involving the dog. If they deem the dog a threat to public safety, they’ll assign a dangerous dog classification. As outlined in Florida Statutes § 767.12, if any of the following are true, a dog cannot be classified as dangerous:
- The dog was defending a person from an unjustified assault or attack
- The dog attacked someone who was unlawfully on private property
After a dog is deemed dangerous, the owner must exercise increased precautionary measures, like using a muzzle and a strong chain or leash. If the dog attacks again, the owner could face fines and other penalties. Animals used by law enforcement are exempt from these laws.
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How Strict Liability Applies to Dog Bite Cases
Many states throughout the U.S. use a “one bite” rule regarding dog bite cases. This type of law protects dog owners from legal action if they weren’t aware that their dog was dangerous. For example, if a dog attacks someone with no previous history of aggressiveness, its owner could be protected from legal action under a “one bite” rule.
Florida doesn’t adhere to this law, opting for strict liability instead. Under strict liability, dog owners are usually responsible for dog bites, regardless of the dog’s history of aggressiveness. This law applies if the attack took place in a:
- Public place
- Private place
- The residence of the dog owner
Keep in mind that a dog owner may not be responsible if the victim unlawfully entered private property. Under Florida law, you entered private property lawfully if:
- You were invited into a business or home
- You’re a postal worker dropping off packages
- You were obligated by state or federal law to enter said property
Therefore, if you were attacked by a dog and weren’t trespassing, it’s likely the owner is responsible for your damages.
Comparative Fault and Dog Bite Laws
After someone is bitten by a dog, they can file a lawsuit and receive compensation, provided they have a strong case. Florida’s comparative fault law, Florida Statutes § 768.81, can impact the amount of compensation dog bite victims receive.
For example, if a postal worker was bitten by a dog while dropping off packages, but they taunted the dog, they could be partially liable. As a result, anyone who provokes a dog could be assigned a percentage of fault, meaning they would not be able to recover the full amount of compensation.
Keep in mind that comparative fault can be contested in a dog bite case. Similarly, dog owners may rely on comparative fault to reduce the amount they have to pay to a victim. Our dog bite attorney can help you if you were involved in a dog attack.
Damages You Could Recover in a Dog Bite Case
Dog bite cases are filed into the category of personal injury law. In these cases, victims receive compensation to cover their accident-related losses. Typically, dog bite victims can pursue these damages:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Wrongful death damages
- Pain and suffering
- Lowered quality of life
How do You Pursue Dog Bite Damages?
You could seek compensation after a dog bite through:
- Insurance claims: In many cases, dog owners can rely on their insurance policy to cover a victim’s losses.
- Lawsuits: If the dog owner doesn’t have insurance or their insurer refuses to cover the dog bite expenses, the victim may choose to file a lawsuit. Remember that lawsuits don’t always end in trial. It’s possible to file a lawsuit and negotiate a settlement before a trial takes place.
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Do You Need to Hire a Lawyer After a Dog Bite?
You’re not required by law to hire a lawyer after a dog bite. However, our team could ease the legal burden of your case. With our help, you can focus on the recovery process.
When we take on your dog bite case, we can help you by:
- Undergoing a detailed investigation of your case
- Explaining important laws
- Pursuing fair compensation
- Acting as your legal representative
- Fighting for your rights inside and outside of the courtroom
- Filing a lawsuit if needed
Contact Our Florida Dog Bite Lawyer Today
A Florida dog bite lawyer from our firm can evaluate your case. We’re prepared to stand up for your rights, deal with insurers, and file a lawsuit if needed. Our goal is to secure fair compensation for you. Contact Andrew Pickett Law, PLLC for a free no, obligation consultation today.