What You Need to Know About Dog Bites in Florida
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, and half are children. The Florida Department of Health reports on their website that “each year, over 600 Floridians are hospitalized due to injuries from dog bites, and an average of two Floridians die from dog bites each year.” Additionally, children between one and nine years of age are at the highest risk for dog bites, with boys in this age group at higher risk than girls. These statistics remind us of the frequency and serious danger of dog bites in Florida.
Dog Bite Basics in Florida
The common law rule regarding dog bites dates back to the late 1700s in the United States. The rule was known as the one bite rule, and it is still in existence in many states today. In Florida, dissatisfaction with the common law rule led to the creation of Florida Statutes Section 767 in 1949.
Section 767.04 of the Florida Statutes states: “The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners knowledge of such viciousness.” This clause creates “strict liability” for a dog owner, meaning they can be held liable for their dog’s actions without the need for the plaintiff to prove that the dog owner was at fault.
A dog owner can raise defenses in certain situations, such as if dog was provoked to attack, thereby reducing their liability to account for the plaintiff’s comparative fault. Another defense includes the “Bad Dog” exception. This exception focuses on signage at the owner’s house which states “Bad Dog” – a method to warn visitors of a dangerous dog. It is important to understand that there are many possibilities for losing the benefit of this defense, including if a child under six enters the property and is bitten.
The Importance of Contacting an Attorney
Dog bites host the potential to cause serious injury or death and the law on the subject is complex. With that in mind, if you or a loved one suffered injuries associated with a dog bite, please contact a skilled Fort Lauderdale dog bite attorney at Boone & Davis to review your case and discuss your options. We will advocate aggressively on your behalf to ensure you recover due compensation for the injuries you incurred.