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Understanding Florida Dog Bite Laws

Although our furry friends are often companions for life, sometimes animals can lead to accidents with significant consequences. When unexpected injuries take place, it is crucial that potential plaintiffs have a full understanding of their rights under Florida law.

In a recent District Court of Appeal case, a Florida court examined a dispute stemming from an alleged dog bite incident. In the case at hand, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s dog caused him to suffer physical and neurological injuries. At trial, the plaintiff and his wife testified that they were watching the dog for a few days when the plaintiff turned his back and the dog ran behind him and knocked him down, rendering him unconscious. Because of other conflicting testimony from both parties, it appeared unclear whether the defendant’s dog or if dogs that the plaintiff also owned caused the plaintiff’s injuries. As a result, the jury rendered a verdict for the defendant and found that the dog was not the legal cause of the plaintiff’s alleged injuries. The plaintiff, however, was later granted a directed verdict and a new trial on the issue of damages.

On appeal, the court reversed the lower court’s directed verdict and sided with the defendants. In directing the trial court to reinstate the jury’s original verdict, the District Court of Appeal stated that testimony introduced at trial equipped the jury to make a decision. Because the evidence presented was ample and provided the jury with the opportunity to accept or reject the testimony presented to them, the jury had a reasonable opportunity to make its conclusions and the trial court erred in overriding the jury’s verdict.

Florida adheres to the strict liability framework when addressing dog bites and owners’ liability. Potential plaintiffs only need to show that the dog acted in “an affirmative or aggressive” manner.

Florida’s strict liability framework also states that dog owners can be held liable for subsequent injuries, even if they were previously unaware of the potential aggressive propensity or nature of their pet. In addition, the strict liability means that potential plaintiffs typically do not have to prove that their injuries were a result of the dog owner’s negligence.

In Florida, dog owners can be held liable for injuries that take place if potential plaintiffs can prove that the dog bit the victim and the victim was lawfully on private property or in a public space. Victims who are bitten under circumstances outside of the ones listed may still bring a personal injury claim against the owner but will then be required to prove that the owner acted negligently or failed to use reasonable care.

Do You Need a Florida Dog Bite Lawyer?

If you or someone you know was recently involved in a Florida dog bite or animal attack, contact the attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada. We fight for the injured and have represented clients in all types of personal injury claims. Our years of experience will serve as the foundation you need to pursue you the compensation you deserve. To schedule a consultation today, contact us at 877-448-8585.

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