Florida Dog Bite Laws You Should Know
Dog bites can result in very serious injuries to adults and children alike. Fortunately, dog bite laws in Florida are very victim-centered. If you or someone you love has sustained injuries as a result of a serious dog bite that occurred in the State of Florida, you may be entitled to monetary compensation under one or more of these laws.
Florida law provides several bases of recovery for dog bite victims, including statutory strict liability, negligence, negligence per se, and intentional torts. In dog bite cases, as in all Florida personal injury cases, time may be of the essence, and the law only provides a set window of time for you to bring a claim against a dog owner or file a lawsuit in the Florida court system.
The knowledgeable Clearwater dog bite lawyers at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA can ensure that all applicable time deadlines are considered and met in your case. They can also review and evaluate your dog bite claim and can use Florida’s dog bite laws to your advantage when it comes to maximizing your monetary recovery. If the insurance company refuses to offer adequate compensation for your injuries and damages, our skilled attorneys are not afraid to litigate your dog bite case and even take it to trial, if necessary.
Statutory Strict Liability and Florida Dog Owners
Florida, like many other states in the country, utilizes a legal standard known as statutory strict liability when it comes to dog bite cases. Pursuant to Section 767.04 of the Florida Dog Bite Statute, dog owners can be held strictly liable when their dog bites a person and causes an injury.
Statutory strict liability provides a basis for monetary recovery by an injured dog bite victim, without regard to fault on the part of the dog owner. In other words, under Florida’s statutory strict liability standard, the dog owner can still be deemed liable for a dog’s bite injuries, even if the dog has never bitten anyone in the past or previously exhibited any vicious or aggressive propensities, such as growling or gritting its teeth at passersby. Any negligence on the part of the dog bite victim could potentially reduce the dog owner’s liability, based upon the victim’s percentage of fault.
Florida’s strict liability rules do not apply to everyone in the dog bite context. Generally speaking, strict liability does not apply to any of the following individuals:
- Trespassers on the land
- Police or military dogs performing their duties
- Damages to property caused by a vicious 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.
Negligence Per Se
Under Florida law, a dog owner is presumed to have acted in a negligent manner if she violates a law or statute that is already on the books. Therefore, if a dog owner walks a dog without a leash or lets the dog roam around the neighborhood unsupervised, the dog owner may be presumed negligent in the event that the dog bites someone and causes injuries.
An intentional tort, such as an assault or battery, requires specific intent on the part of a dog owner to 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 or incites the dog to bite someone. When that happens, the dog bite victim may be entitled to monetary compensation for injuries and damages sustained.
Statute of Limitations
In Florida dog bite cases, a lawsuit must ordinarily be filed in the Florida court system within four years of the date on which the plaintiff sustained the dog bite injury. This same deadline applies to all personal injury cases in Florida.
Florida’s statute of limitations is a hard-and-fast deadline. Therefore, if a claim or 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 in the dog bite incident.
The knowledgeable dog bite lawyers at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA are aware of all filing deadlines and can ensure 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.
Dog Bite Injuries and Damages
Injuries and damages sustained in dog bite cases can potentially be catastrophic and long-term. Some of the more common injuries and damages sustained in St. Petersburg dog bite cases include the following:
- Cuts, bruises, and abrasions
- Permanent scarring (especially facial scarring)
- Bite marks
- Fractures and broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- 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
In some cases of dog bite injury, the fault for the dog bite occurring is not always quite so clear-cut. In many cases, a dog may attack someone for no real reason aside from the fact that the dog is particularly aggressive but sometimes the person bitten may have contributed fault in some way which can complicate a case. If a dog bite victim “contributes” to the incident, his monetary recovery could potentially be reduced based on the victim’s percentage of fault. This is what is known as comparative negligence and can significantly affect the amount of compensation one receives from a dog bite lawsuit. If it is deemed that you contributed 20% of the fault towards a dog bite occurring then you can miss out on 20% of the potential compensation you may have received.
Dog Bite Injury Damages
When dog bite injuries occur, victims may be eligible for monetary compensation for medical bills, corrective surgeries (i.e., in cases involving scarring and other permanent injuries), lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and emotional distress. The damages suffered by dog bite victims can potentially be quite severe since the injuries can have permanent effects such as disfigurment, disability, and even mental disorders caused by the incident’s inflicted trauma. These damages and more deserve to be compensated when a severe dog bite injury occurs despite the fact that such an injury could have been avoided had proper measures been taken.
Seek an Experienced Florida Dog Bite Injury Lawyer
If you have sustained injuries as a result of a dog bite incident, you should contact a knowledgeable Florida dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to assist you with your case. The skilled dog bite lawyers at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA know and understand Florida dog bite laws and can use the laws to your advantage in helping you recover monetary compensation for your injuries and damages.
To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Clearwater dog bite lawyer, please call us at (727) 451-6900 today or contact us online.