Understanding Dog Bite Laws in Florida
In Florida, dog bites are one of the leading causes of nonfatal injuries among both children and adults. While there have been many actions taken by community leaders throughout the state to place more restrictions on breeds that are considered to be dangerous, stricter leash laws, and other regulations in regards to pet ownership, very little legislation has been done in most counties that help remedy the issue of dog bites.
Dog bite injuries can range from something as small as a scrape or bruise to more major issues like mauling. What seems to be the most useful strategy for taking care of situations in which dog bites occur is holding owners more accountable for their pets’ actions. Luckily for victims of dog bites who receive injuries that require medical attention, they can seek compensation under Florida law with the help of a personal injury lawyer.
Who’s held responsible after a dog bite?
When it comes to placing responsibility on one single party when someone is bitten by a dog, Florida law is very straightforward. Per Florida Dog Bite Statute section 767.04, the dog’s owner is solely responsible in a court of law. This statute is set in stone, meaning the owner is responsible no matter if they had previous knowledge that their dog may bite or if they attempted to keep the bite from occurring.
The person injured in the incident also does not have to prove that the dog bite was caused by lack of care on the owner’s part. In essence, dogs can bite any person for any reason, regardless of the care administered to them by their owner. The owner is also liable even if there is no prior history of aggressive behavior from the dog.
There are some occurrences in which a dog’s owner will not be held responsible, though. For instance:
- If a dog bites an intruder or trespasser on the owner’s property.
- A police dog bites a person while performing the duties they were trained to do.
- A dog causes damage to property, not a person.
Moreover, if the victim of a dog bite is found to be partially responsible for the incident, the owner’s liability may be lessened based on how much fault falls on the person who was bitten.
The owner may also be found negligent if the court feels they have violated any of the dog law statutes, such as allowing the dog to run freely off their property or if they walk their dog without a leash.
Intentional torts and statute of limitations
Any sort of intentional negligence or action taken on the part of the owner, such as assault or battery, can be classified under intentional torts under Florida law. In cases of intent or provocation, the dog bite victim can seek monetary compensation in addition to finding the owner liable for the incident.
Under Florida law, there is a statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in the case of a dog bite. If a person receives any sort of injury due to a dog bite, they have four years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit. Beyond that, the suit is automatically dismissed by the court and the plaintiff is forever banned from seeking any kind of restitution from the dog’s owner.
Filing a lawsuit after a dog bite in Florida
If you are the victim of a dog bite, you may have reason for filing a lawsuit to seek restitution under Florida law. To see what your options are and to tell more about your case, contact the West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at Pike & Lustig, LLP today to set up a consultation.