Florida Dog Bite Laws
Dog owners in Florida are held to a higher standard than people in other states when it comes to liability for dog bites inflicted by their pets. The reason for this is that some states use a so-called “one-bite rule” under which a dog owner is only held responsible for injuries caused by a dog that has previously bitten someone, shown vicious tendencies or given its owner some reason to believe the animal might bite a person. Florida is a strict liability state when it comes to owner responsibility for the payment of compensation.
The Dog Bite Law in Florida
The applicable section of the law that should be of most concern to dog owners residing in Tallahassee, Miami and other parts of the state is Florida Statutes Annotated section 767.04 pertaining to damage by dogs. Under the statute, an owner can be held responsible for the damages incurred by the victim of a dog bite if the attack takes place in a public area. Liability is also imposed if the bite occurs on private property as long as the victim was lawfully on such property.
The statute does not require knowledge on the part of the of the dog’s owner of the vicious propensities of the animal for liability to be imposed. It also does not matter that the attack took place on private property owned or leased by the owner of the dog. As long as the victim of the attack was not a trespasser or in some other way unlawfully on the property, the victim is not barred from recovering damages from the owner of the dog, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Rehabilitation costs
Defenses Available to a Dog Bite Victim
Under state law, a person sued by the victim of a dog bite might have a defense to a lawsuit for compensation if the victim entered private property without regard to signs posted on the property warning people with the words “bad dog” to warn of the hazard. This defense does not apply in cases in which the injured dog bite victim is under six years of age.
Another possible dog bite defense is the conduct of the victim in provoking the dog to attack. Any negligence on the part of the victim that contributed to the dog bite or to the injury is treated under state law as comparative negligence. A judge or jurors may reduce the amount of compensation they award to a dog bite victim by the percentage of comparative negligence they conclude existed on the part of the injured party.
The Statute of Limitations Defense in Dog Bite Cases
As do other states, Florida has a law that requires people who are injured through the negligent conduct of others to file lawsuits without delay. Delay in suing for personal injuries, such as those suffered from a dog bite, can result in witnesses moving away or forgetting events. A statute of limitations forces dog bite victims to file their lawsuits in a timely manner.
The statute of limitations for filing dog bite claims is found in section 95.11 of the Florida Statutes Annotated. A victim who does not sue a dog owner within four years from the date of the attack risks having his or her lawsuit dismissed by the courts as being filed in violation of the statute of limitations.
A Florida Dog Bite Attorney Can Help
The attorneys at The Felicetti Law Firm P.C. have the experience gained from obtaining compensation for seriously injured dog bite victims to understand the complexities of the Florida laws. Our trusted and compassionate legal team is available to discuss your dog bite injuries with you and to answer any questions that you might have about your right to compensation.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment by calling (800) 707-1954, or you can contact us by using the convenient form on our website.