Dog Bite Laws
If someone’s canine bites another person in Florida, State Law may hold the owner strictly responsible for the resulting injuries and damages from the incident.
Dog bite incidents can cause serious injuries and create big bills for expensive medical treatment and other losses. If you have been hurt in an attack involving a dog in Florida, seek medical attention right away. Then, consider working with a Florida Dog Bite Lawyer from our firm who may be able to help you hold the animal’s owner liable for your injuries.
Florida’s strict liability Dog Bite Law
Florida’s strict liability statute for dog bite cases can be found in Florida Statutes § 767.04, which says a dog’s owner can be held liable for their animal biting a person if that person is:
- On or in a public place; or
- Lawfully in a private place, such as the owner’s residence or property.
It does not matter:
- If the dog has ever bitten someone before
- If the dog’s owner knew about the dog’s ability to bite
- If the dog’s bite was unintentional
- If the owner tried to prevent the attack
The “Bad Dog” sign exception
There might be an exception to this law’s strict liability rule if the dog owner had an “easily readable” sign with the words “Bad Dog” posted on their premises. This exception does not apply when the bite victim is below the age of 6.
You can still sue for Dog owner Negligence if strict liability does not apply
Even when the strict liability law does not apply, dog attack victims may still be able to win a personal injury case with proof that the dog owner’s negligence caused their injuries. This may include situations where:
- A “Bad Dog” sign was posted
- A dog attacked and injured you but did not bite you
- You were trespassing on the property when the dog bite occurred
A Florida dog bite attorney from our firm can help you identify your legal options after a dog attack.
Florida Dog Bite Injury Cases have a Statute of Limitations Deadline
If the responsible party’s insurance company does not satisfy the dog bite victim’s claim, a lawsuit may be necessary for a victim to recover their losses.
In either case, the important thing to keep in mind is that Florida gives dog bite victims four years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury lawsuit, per Florida Statutes § 95.11(3)(a). If you miss the deadline, you risk losing your opportunity to seek compensation for your injuries.
Every year over 600 Florida residents are hospitalized as a result of dog bites/attacks. Children between the ages of 1 and 9 have the highest likelihood of being attacked by dogs with their size making it easier for them to be bitten in the head or neck.
Kids love to play with dogs, but might not know what they are doing can be dangerous. Before the next time you take your kids out to a park or any other place where they might encounter strange dogs, go over this list from the Florida Disease Control and Health Protection with them.
Safety tips for adults and children:
- Never approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Never run from a dog and never scream around a dog.
- If you believe a dog is about to attack you, try to place something between yourself and the dog, such as a backpack or a bicycle.
- If a dog knocks you over, roll into a ball, cover your face and stay still.
- Children should never approach or play with dogs unless supervised by an adult.
- Children should tell an adult if they see a stray dog or a dog acting strangely.
- Don’t look a dog right in the eyes.
- Don’t disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- Adults should never leave an infant or young child alone with any dog, not even the family pet
If you or your child is a victim of a dog attack, it is important to clean the bite area with soap and water right away to reduce the risk of infection. Medical care should be sought as required to ensure all vaccinations are up to date as well. When your health is assured, contact an experienced animal attack attorney at Wolf & Pravato so we can help and get you what you deserve.
Start on your case as soon as possible
Four years is considerable time to seek recovery for a dog bite injury, but we recommend you start working on your case as early as you can. A dog bite injuries lawyer from our firm can help you file your civil action with the court by or before the deadline.
Damages you could recover in a Florida Dog Bite Case
Dog bites can range from minor scratches and bruises to major injuries that break the skin or cause trauma to the head and face. Serious injuries usually require extensive treatment and recovery time that may mean missing days at work. Victims of such attacks can seek compensation to help them recover financially.
Legal action in a dog bite case may help you recover awards for:
- Emergency medical services you received to treat your wounds
- Expenses for ongoing medical care and rehabilitation
- Surgery to repair scarring or disfigurement
- Wages you lost while recovering from your injuries at home
- Reduced or lost ability to earn income
- Pain and suffering you endured due to the attack and your injuries
- Therapy and counseling to help you cope with post-incident trauma
A Fort Lauderdale Dog Bite Lawyer from our firm can help you prove the value of your damages.
How a Dog Bite Lawyer from Our Firm can help your Case
Our legal team can review your dog bite incident and help you explore your options. When we take you on as a client, we will:
- Investigate what happened in your dog bite incident
- Collect evidence that supports your position and use it to build your case
- Calculate your monetary and non-monetary damages
- Interview witnesses who saw the incident
- Communicate with all parties involved, including the opposed party’s attorney and insurance company
- Manage negotiations with other parties on your behalf
- File your lawsuit if your claim does not lead to a settlement
- Prepare your case and represent you in court, if necessary
Florida’s Dog Bite Laws do have Some Exceptions
It is important to note that Florida Statutes § 767.04 contains exceptions that can affect a dog bite case’s outcome. The law applies to people who were on the property legally; trespassers are not covered under the strict liability statute.
A person who is legally on the property may include anyone who is
- Visiting the property to carry out official business required by state or federal laws; or
- A person with an “expressed or implied” invitation by the owner to be on the property.
People who fall into these categories may include:
- Letter carriers
- Home service workers
- Maintenance workers
- Delivery drivers
Our lawyers who handle dog bite cases can help determine if strict liability law applies to your situation or if you may have other options for pursuing compensation.
Comparative Negligence could affect a Dog Bite Victim’s Claim
While a dog owner can be held liable if their dog bites someone, the law also looks at if the bite victim’s negligence contributed to their injuries. If so, the dog owner’s percentage of liability may decrease. This means the dog bite victim’s award may be reduced to reflect their percentage of fault in the incident.
For example, if the bite victim is awarded $20,000 but is also found 20% responsible for the incident, they will be awarded $16,000 instead.
Contact Law Offices of Wolf & Pravato today for a Free Consultation
If you have been injured in a dog attack, the Law Offices of Wolf & Pravato can help you fight to hold the dog owner liable for your injuries.
Our firm can manage your case, help you understand the applicable laws, and navigate the claims or lawsuit process on your behalf. Call us today at (954) 633-8270 for a free case evaluation with a team member. We treat clients like family and take our time to help them understand their legal options.