Dog bites can result in very serious injuries to adults and young children alike, including lacerations, scars, bite marks, and other serious injuries and damages. If you have sustained injuries as a result of a vicious dog bite that occurred in the State of Florida, you may be entitled to monetary compensation.
Florida law provides several avenues of recovery for victims of serious dog bites, including statutory strict liability, negligence, negligence per se, and intentional torts. An experienced Florida dog bite lawyer will be able to review the facts and circumstances of your individual case with you and assert the necessary legal steps for recovery, helping you to obtain the monetary compensation you need and deserve.
Statutory Strict Liability Standard for Florida Dog Owners
When it comes to dog bites, Florida, like most states in the country, utilizes a legal standard known as statutory strict liability. Pursuant to Section 767.04 of the Florida Dog Bite Statute, dog owners may be held strictly liable when their dog bites a person and causes an injury. Strict liability means that a dog owner may still be held liable for the dog's bite injuries, even if the dog has no prior history of biting people or exhibiting other types of vicious or aggressive behavior – and without regard to knowledge or fault on the part of the dog owner.
However, under the Florida dog bite statute, any negligence on the part of the person bitten (i.e. the dog bite victim's ‘comparative negligence') can potentially reduce the dog owner's liability according to the victim's percentage of fault.
Moreover, under the Statute, a dog owner is not liable (except to a child under age 6, or unless the damages are caused by the owner's negligent act or omission) if the dog owner had a “Bad Dog” sign displayed on his or her premises in a prominent place.
Finally, in order for statutory strict liability to apply in a Florida dog bite case, the dog must have bitten someone in a public place or lawfully in a private setting. Therefore, the strict liability rules generally do not apply to the following:
- Police or military dogs performing their duties
- Damages to property caused by the dog
In addition to statutory strict liability, a dog owner may also (or alternatively) be liable to a dog bite victim if the dog owner did something that a reasonable dog owner would not have done (or failed to do something that a reasonable dog owner would have done), proximately resulting in the dog bite and the victim's subsequent injuries.
A skilled Clearwater dog bite lawyer will be able to help you satisfy and prove the elements of negligence in a dog bite case.
Negligence Per Se
Under Florida law, a dog owner is presumed to have acted in a negligent manner when he or she violates a law or statute that is on the books. In the dog bite context, when a dog owner violates an animal control law, such as by walking a dog without a leash or letting the dog roam around the neighborhood ‘at large,' the dog owner may be presumed negligent when the dog later bites someone and causes injuries.
A knowledgeable Florida dog bite lawyer will have a working knowledge of Florida animal control laws and leash laws and may be able to help you prove that a dog owner violated a statute.
Statute of Limitations
In Florida dog bite cases, a lawsuit must ordinarily be brought within four years of the date on which the plaintiff sustained the dog bite injury. This is a hard-and-fast rule, meaning that if a lawsuit is not filed within the required four-year time period, the dog bite victim is forever barred from filing suit or seeking monetary recovery for injuries sustained.
A dog bite lawyer will be aware of the statute of limitations and will be able to ensure that suit is filed on time – and that your legal rights are preserved. Since time may be of the essence, you should not delay in seeking skilled legal representation in your dog bite case.
An intentional tort, such as assault or battery, requires a specific intent on the part of a dog owner to bring about – or cause – the dog to bite another person. In the dog bite context, intentional torts usually arise in cases of provocation, where the dog owner provokes the dog to bite a person. When that happens, the dog bite victim may be entitled to monetary compensation for injuries and damages sustained.
Injuries and Damages in Florida Dog Bite Cases
Injuries sustained in dog bite cases can be quite serious and can result in long periods of treatment, and in some cases, permanent damage. Some of the most common injuries and damages sustained in Florida dog bite cases include the following:
- Cuts, bruises, and abrasions
- Permanent scarring
- Bite marks
- Fractures and broken bones
- TBI's (traumatic brain injuries)
- Soft tissue injuries
- Permanent damage
- Dog Bite Defenses
Under Florida law, the following legal defenses may apply in the dog bite context:
- Trespassing on someone else's land
- Provocation by the dog bite victim
- Assumption of risk by the dog bite victim
- Comparative negligence
Contact a Clearwater Dog Bite Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Case
Dog bites can result in very serious injuries and damages. When those injuries occur, dog bite victims may be able to pursue monetary compensation for medical bills, corrective surgeries (i.e. in cases involving scars and other types of permanent damage), lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and emotional distress.
If you have sustained injuries as a result of a dog bite, you should contact a knowledgeable Florida dog bite lawyer to assist you with your case. An attorney will be able to safeguard all of your legal rights and can pursue every available avenue of recovery.
To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Clearwater dog bite attorney, please call us today or contact us online.