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I’ve Been Bitten By a Neighbor’s Dog: Who Is Liable For My Damages?

Dogs are often considered to be members of the family. They are lovable and can be loyal to a fault, but they can also be unpredictable. Even the friendliest dog can bite a human being if it is provoked, frightened, or suffering from a neurological condition. These bites might come as a shock but can also lead to serious injuries for the human victim. Sometimes, the resulting injuries are permanent.

When a dog bites a person, the victim’s first question is often who is liable for the bite. In Florida, a dog’s owner is strictly liable for any injuries that the dog causes. This means that unlike other states, dogs in Florida do not have a “one bite” allowance – basically, a dog’s owner is liable for any bite the dog inflicts, regardless of the dog’s history of previously known temperament. But there are situations in which a dog’s owner is not liable for injuries inflicted by his or her dog – if the dog’s owner can prove that the victim provoked the dog into biting, the victim may not be able to recover monetary compensation for his or her damages. To learn more about the Florida laws applicable to dog bites, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.

What is a Dangerous Dog?

Under Florida law, a dog can be classified as a dangerous dog if it meets certain requirements. These include the following:

  • The dog has harmed a human being in any way, such as biting, attacking, or otherwise severely injuring the victim;
  • The dog has, in an aggressive manner, chased or approached a victim in public without being provoked by the victim;
  • The dog has killed or severely injured another domestic animal on more than one occasion. The victim animal could be another dog, but it could also be any other domestic animal such as a cat, a chicken, a goat, or a guinea pig.

Owners of dangerous dogs must comply with the requirements listed in the law in order to keep their dogs. These requirements include the following:

  • The dog must be registered with the state;
  • The dog must be securely confined to the owner’s property and when off the property, on a substantial chain and handled by a competent handler;
  • The dog’s owner must have clearly-visible signs at multiple points on his or her property warning that a dangerous dog resides there;
  • The dog must be permanently identified as such with an inner thigh tattoo or a microchip;
  • Animal control authorities must be notified whenever the dangerous dog:
  • moves to a new location;
  • dies;
  • is sold;
  • is given to a new owner;
  • is unconfined or gets loose from its handler or owner’s property;
  • bites or otherwise attacks a human or another animal.

What if the Victim is a Child?

Dog bites are the second-most common type of accident that sends children to the emergency room.

In many cases where children are injured by dogs, it is because the child was playing too roughly with the dog or startled it in some way. Despite the bite being a direct response to the child’s actions, a child under the age of six cannot be held responsible for provoking a dog into biting. This means that when a young child is bitten by a dog, the dog’s owner is liable for the child’s injuries no matter why the dog bit the child.

St. Petersburg Dog Bite Attorneys

Dog bites can lead to serious injuries for a victim. These injuries can lead to permanent nerve and tissue damage, leaving the victim scarred or even disabled for the rest of his or her life. In some cases, victims die as a result of dog bites and attacks. In any case where you or a loved one have been bitten by a dog, seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you have been bitten by a dog in Florida, work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you get the money you deserve for your expenses. Contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today at 727-222-6922 to discuss your case with a member of our firm.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 472-3909

St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorney