Dog bite claims can raise serious questions for victims. Personal Injury attorney Tim David explains the dog bite claim process in Florida.
Dog bites are one of the most common types of personal injuries. Every year, millions of people visit emergency rooms for treatment of dog bites. About half of the victims are children. Dog owners are required by Florida law to maintain control over their animals at all times, so victims of a dog bite may have grounds to sue the owner or another party for damages related to these injuries.
What is Florida’s Dog Bite Law?
Florida law states that the owner of a dog is liable for bites that occur in public or when the victim is legally on private property. Florida also allows lawsuits based on injuries other than bites caused by dogs, such as the injuries of a victim who is knocked down by an animal.
Strict liability means that the owner is responsible for a dog bite even if the animal has never bitten before. Unlike some states which have a “one bite” rule, dog owners in Florida are liable for injuries the first time their pets bite. Additionally, victims are not required to prove lack of reasonable care on the part of the owner; the fact that the dog attacked is enough to established owner liability and potentially collect damages in a dog bite claim.
Florida also has a “dangerous dog” statute. This law requires owners of certain dogs to take special precautions to prevent attacks. The owner may be required to muzzle the dog or to keep the animal in a special, enclosed area. If the owner fails to do so, criminal charges may result.
On the other hand, dog attacks that occur in defense of an owner are usually not considered to be negligence, and victims may not be able to recover under these circumstances.
The deadline to file a complaint for injuries received from a dog bite is four years after the event. Victims who do not meet the deadline imposed by the statute of limitations may have their cases dismissed and be unable to collect compensation.
Are There Defenses for Dog Bite Claims?
A dog owner in Florida can defend himself or herself from a lawsuit for a dog bite only by claiming that the victim was illegally on the property where the bite occurred or that the victim caused the dog bite due to comparative negligence. Comparative negligence means that the victim’s conduct was such that a bite was an easily foreseeable consequence of the behavior. If this is the case, the amount the victim collects may be reduced. Small children are usually not considered sufficiently aware of the danger to deliberately provoke a dog, but teenagers or adults may be found to have comparative negligence if the victim teased or tormented the dog.
Liability of Third Parties
In some cases, a dog’s owner may not be the only person liable. A landlord, for example, could be liable for a dog attack if he or she was aware that the dog was dangerous but still allowed the tenant to have it on the property. Additionally, a dog sitter or other individual who has custody and control over the dog may be liable for incidents that occur during this time.
Getting help with Dog Bite Claims
If you have been the victim of a dog attack, contact a personal injury lawyer at David & Philpot, P.L. today. We may be able to help you recover compensation for your injuries, including lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering.