In Florida, when a dog attacks someone who is on public property or if they are bitten while on private property (with the owner’s permission), they can pursue a claim for compensation from the animal’s owner for any injuries they sustained. The state’s dog bite statute governs these Florida dog bite cases.
Under Florida Statutes section 767.04, an owner is strictly liable for any injuries caused by their animal. This means that the dog bite victim will not need to establish that the owner was negligent in any way to recover. The mere fact that a dog bit someone is sufficient to establish liability. Thus, Florida law is somewhat unique in that an owner is liable “regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.”
This is an important distinction between Florida’s dog bite statute and similar statutes in other states. For example, many states employ the “one bite rule,” which essentially provides the owner of a dog with immunity from liability the first time their dog attacks or bites someone else. The rationale behind this rule is that the owner of an animal cannot be held liable for injuries caused by a dog that they had no way of knowing would attack a human and has never done so in the past.
Florida courts do not apply the one bite rule. Instead, as noted above, Florida courts employ a theory of strict liability in most circumstances. It is only when a dog’s owner posts an easily readable sign in a prominent place stating “Bad Dog” that strict liability will not apply. If such a warning is displayed, then the owner can only be held liable if their negligence somehow brought about or contributed to the dog’s attack of the victim. This may be due to poorly maintained fencing, allowing a dog to run off leash, or other similar negligent conduct.
Another consideration in Florida dog bite cases is whether a victim’s negligence was partially responsible for the dog’s attack. If, for example, a dog attacked someone after they had been taunting the dog then a jury may determine that the victim was partially at fault for their injuries. If this is determined to be the case, the dog’s owner’s liability can be reduced according to the victim’s percentage of fault.
Have You Been Bitten by a Dog?
If a dangerous animal has recently injured you or someone you love, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Florida dog bite lawsuit. The dedicated South Florida personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank have decades of experience handling all types of Florida injury claims, including dog bite cases. We routinely stand up to insurance companies to enforce our clients’ rights. To learn more, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today. Calling is free, and you will not be billed for our services unless we can help you recover for your injuries.
More Blog Posts:
Court Discusses Personal Injury Plaintiff’s Evidentiary Burden at the Summary Judgement Stage, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published October 18, 2018.
Florida Personal Injury Victims and the Importance of Being Careful When Settling a Case, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published October 4, 2018.