Dog Bites

Dog Bites

It is often said that dogs are a man’s best friend but when they bite, they can quickly turn into a person’s worst enemy. Dog bites may not sound like major injuries, but even small dogs can do serious damage when they bite and attack. Dog bites are not only extremely painful, but according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, they can also result in severe nerve damage and other serious injuries.

Even when a person sustains a minor injury during a dog bite or attack, it can quickly become infected and lead to a much more serious condition. The Florida Statutes regulate dog bites, and allow victims to claim compensation that can help them recover from their injuries.

Florida Law on Dog Bites

Florida’s dog bite laws are covered under Statute 767.04 and state that dog owners are held strictly liable when their pet bites or attacks another person. Victims do not have to prove that the owner knew the dog had dangerous tendencies, or that the owner was negligent in controlling their dog.

Although state law provides victims of dog bites great protection, there are some exceptions to the law. The first exception involves people that were not on the property lawfully, or trespassers. The second exception involves when an owner hangs a “Beware of Dog” sign in a spot where it is clearly visible to anyone entering the property. Even with these exceptions, if the victims was six years or younger, the strict liability law is upheld.

Limitations on Dog Owner Liability

In most cases, victims of dog bites can hold owners liable for their injuries. However, there are some limitations on a dog owner’s liability. Certain facts of the case that could reduce the compensation victims receive include when:

  • The victim did not have permission to be on the property.
  • The victim provoked the dog into biting them.
  • The dog was defending the owner or someone within close proximity and that the dog perceived as a threat.

As mentioned earlier, a clear warning sign can also limit a dog owner’s liability, but it will largely depend on the other circumstances of a case.

Florida’s Law on Dangerous Dogs

The strict liability statute is not the only law that governs dogs in Florida. There is also the dangerous dog statute, which is meant to protect members of the public from dangerous dogs. When dogs are aggressive or violent, the owner must take certain precautions and follow very strict laws that govern dangerous dogs. If they do not, they can be held criminally responsible for any injuries a dangerous dog causes.

Dangerous dogs must be registered with the local authorities. Dog owners must also keep dangerous dogs in a secured location that is clearly marked with warning signs about the dog. When dog owners take a dangerous dog off of their own property, they must ensure that the dog is adequately restrained with a harness and a leash, as well as a muzzle.

Florida law defines a dangerous dog as one that:

  • Has aggressively attacked or bitten a person, or otherwise caused someone else serious injury.
  • Has attempted to attack or endanger another person.
  • Has chased a person, or aggressively pursued someone, that did not pose any threat.

When a dangerous dog causes injuries, victims can file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for their losses, such as their medical bills and their pain and suffering.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

Florida dog bite laws are complex, and determining the level of liability that should be placed on an owner can be complicated. That is why having an experienced attorney by your side is critical in helping ensure that you receive fair and just compensation for your injuries and suffering.