What are Florida’s Dog Bite Laws?
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Every year thousands of people in Florida are bitten by dogs, and these bites can result in severe injuries and even death. Florida has strict laws in place to hold dog owners responsible for the actions of their pets. Understanding Florida’s dog bite laws is essential if you are a dog owner or a dog bite victim.
Dog Bite Statute in Florida
Florida is a strict liability state regarding dog bites. Florida statute 767.04 states that dog owners are responsible for any injuries or damages caused by their dogs, regardless of whether they knew their dog was dangerous or had a history of aggressive behavior. The statute applies whether the dog bite occurred on public or private property, provided the victim was lawfully there during the bite.
According to Florida’s dog bite statute, a dangerous dog is defined as one that:
- has bitten, attacked, or injured a person or animal
- has chased a person unprovoked in public
If a dog has been deemed dangerous, the owner must take precautions to prevent future bites, such as keeping the dog in a secure enclosure, muzzled, or restrained on a leash when in public. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in fines of up to $500.
Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Cases
The statute of limitations for dog bite cases in Florida is four years. This means that you have four years from the date of the dog bite incident to sue the dog owner for any injuries or damages you suffered due to the bite.
Exceptions to the Dog Bite Statute
There are a few exceptions to Florida’s dog bite statute:
- The victim was trespassing; and
- There was a clear and visible warning sign of a potentially dangerous dog, but the victim ignored it.
In these cases, the owner may not be liable for injuries or damages caused by their dog unless the victim is under six years old. A child under age six is presumed incapable of being negligent. Therefore, the owner may be held strictly liable for injuries and damages suffered even if the child was trespassing on private property at the time of the incident.
Proving Liability for a Dog Bite
To receive compensation for a dog bite in Florida, the victim must show that:
- The dog bit them
- They were in a public place or lawfully on the dog owner’s property
- The dog owner was negligent
- There was intentional tort in that the owner intended the dog to attack them.
Criminal Liability for Dog Owners
In Florida, if a dangerous dog kills a person, the owner is guilty of a third-degree felony and can be fined $5000 and imprisoned for up to five years.
If a dangerous dog attacks a person without provocation and severely injures them, the owner can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor and fined up to $1000, and imprisoned for up to one year.
Possible Defenses for a Dog a Bite Claim
If a dog owner faces a dog bite claim in Florida, they may be able to mount a defense under certain circumstances.
- If the victim was trespassing
- If the victim was provoking the dog
- If the dog was defending the owner from a threat or attack or
- If the victim assumed the risk of being bitten by the dog.
Comparative Negligence for a Dog Bite
Florida is a comparative negligence state, which implies that if the victim contributed in some way to their injuries, their compensation might be reduced by their percentage of fault. For instance, if the victim provoked the dog or ignored warning signs, they may be found partially at fault for their injuries.
Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries in Florida
If a dog in Florida has bitten you, you may be able to receive the following compensation for your injuries:
- Medical expenses, bills, and ongoing treatment costs
- Lost income, if you had to take time off work to recover
- Property damage, if the dog damaged your personal property during the attack
- Pain and suffering, including emotional trauma, caused by the bite.
Contact the Skilled Dog Bite Attorney in Vero Beach, Florida, Today
If a dog in Florida has bitten you, contact the skilled Florida dog bite attorney at the Law Offices of Keith Bregoff. We can help you pursue compensation for your injuries. Feel free to contact us for a free case assessment today.