Dangerous dogs on the loose threaten everyone, from young children to adults. Fortunately for Florida bite victims, the dog bite laws in Florida are geared toward providing innocent victims with monetary compensation and damages for their injuries. Specifically, under Florida law, a dog bite victim may sue a dog owner based upon statutory strict liability, negligence, negligence per se, or intentional tort.
You must file dog bite claims and lawsuits within a certain time frames, so time may be of the essence in your case. Therefore, do not delay in seeking competent, experienced legal representation. If you or someone you love has sustained injuries in Florida as a result of a vicious dog, the law may entitle you to pursue monetary compensation. The skilled Florida dog bite injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group can meet with you to review your case and can formulate the necessary legal arguments that will increase your chances of recovering monetary damages for your injuries.
Statutory Strict Liability
When it comes to Florida dog bites, you may recover monetary compensation without regard to the dog owner’s fault. Pursuant to Section 767.04 of the Florida Dog Bite Statute, a dog owner is strictly liable for all injuries and damages that result when a dog viciously attacks and bites an innocent victim. This is true even where the dog owner did nothing wrong—and even if the dog never bit anyone in the past or acted aggressively toward strangers before.
If the dog bite victim provoked the dog or acted in a negligent manner, then under the law the dog bite victim could receive reduced monetary compensation. Moreover, if the dog bite victim was trespassing on the dog owner’s land, strict liability may not apply. And generally speaking, Florida’s strict liability laws will not apply to police or military dogs or in cases of property-only damages.
In the alternative—or in addition to—statutory strict liability, a dog owner may also face liability for acting in a careless, negligent, or reckless manner under the circumstances. A dog owner, in other words, may be negligent by doing something that a reasonable dog owner would not have done, or failing to do something that a reasonable dog owner would have done, under the circumstances. Moreover, the dog bite victim must show that the dog owner’s negligence caused the attack as well as the dog bite victim’s injuries and damages.
As with all Florida personal injury cases, the plaintiff dog bite victim has the burden of proof in any cause of action based upon negligence.
Negligence Per Se
Florida leash laws are in place to keep members of the general public safe. In Florida, under the doctrine of negligence per se, a dog owner who violates an existing law geared toward protecting against dog bites and attacks may be presumed negligent. For example, if a Florida dog owner allows a dog to roam around a housing development at large or without a leash, the dog owner could be deemed per se negligent and face responsibility for all of the dog bite victim’s injuries and damages.
Intentional torts require a specific and intentional act by the defendant dog owner. If the dog owner intends for the dog to bite the victim—or provokes the dog to attack or bite the victim—then he may be liable in tort, and the dog bite victim may pursue monetary compensation for injuries and damages.
Time Limits on Filing Suit
Florida victims ordinarily must file dog bite claims and lawsuits within four years of the date on which the dog bite victim sustained the injuries. In most cases, absent some limited exceptions, a dog bite victim who does not make a claim or file suit within that time period will forever lose the right to file suit—or make a claim for monetary damages as a result of the injuries sustained in the dog bite incident.
Injuries and Damages
Dog bite injuries can be catastrophic and permanent, and the dog owner may be liable for those injuries and any losses victims experience as a result. Common injuries sustained by Florida dog bite victims include:
- Cuts and bruises
- Scratch marks
- Permanent facial scarring
- Bite or teeth marks
- Soft tissue injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
- TBIs (traumatic brain injuries)
- Permanent damages
Defenses in Florida Dog Bite Cases
If a dog bite victim files a claim or lawsuit against the dog owner, the dog owner will almost always assert one or more legal defenses. The most common legal defenses in dog bite cases include trespass, provocation by the dog bite victim, assumption of risk by the dog bite victim, and comparative negligence (that is, the dog bite victim shares partial responsibility for the attack). In cases where the dog owner successfully proves that the dog bite victim was partially responsible for the attack, the dog bite victim’s damages may be reduced accordingly.
Contact a Florida Personal Injury Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case
Serious dog bite injuries can result in high medical bills and lost wages, as well as the need for corrective surgeries. A dog bite victim may also pursue monetary compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and emotional distress resulting from the dog bite incident and injuries.
If you have sustained injuries in a dog bite attack, the knowledgeable lawyers at Dolman Law Group may pursue monetary compensation on your behalf. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Florida dog bite injury attorney, please call us today at (727) 451-6900 or contact us online.