Are Owners Responsible for the Actions of Their Pets?
When you see a cute dog on the street or while visiting a friend, many times your first instinct is to reach out and pet the dog, but is this smart? While a dog may look friendly at first glance, sometimes unpredictable behaviors may emerge that put you or a loved one in danger. A dog bite can be a very serious injury that could lead to further injury, infection, or deformation. While animals may be generally friendly, there are times in which the dog acts out of character in a way that even their owners do not recognize. If this occurs, who is responsible for an injury that may occur?
Dog Bite Liability in Florida
In the state of Florida, under statute 767.04, “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 means that whether or not a dog has previously had a vicious tendency or bitten someone, the owner of the dog will still be liable for the actions of their pet.
While an owner is generally liable for the actions of their pet, there are circumstances in which the owner’s liability may be reduced. In Florida, an owner’s negligence may be reduced if the negligence of the victim contributed to them being bit in the first place. However, the negligence of the victim must be a proximate cause of the biting, meaning that the biting would not have occurred but for the victim’s negligent action.
Another exception to the general dog biting rules is when the bite occurs on the owner’s own premises. The statute states that the dog owner is not liable for any injury caused by the animal unless the damages are “proximately caused by a negligent act or omission of the owner, if at the time of any such injury the owner had displayed in a prominent place on his or her premises a sign easily readable including the words ‘Bad Dog’.” This exception does not apply if the person who was bit was under the age of six years old.
Dog Bite Prevention
The risk of dog bites in America may be higher than most people think. Every year about 4.5 million Americans are bit by a dog, half of those bites involving children who are between the ages of 5 and 9 years old. Possibly more shocking is the fact that one out every five of those bites is serious enough to require medical attention. While a dog may seem friendly on first glance, it is important to remain safe and attentive. Here are a few tips to prevent you and your loved ones from being bit by a dog:
– If you are choosing a dog of your own, try to pick a breed that is known to have a good temperament;
– Be cautious with dogs that you do not know;
– Do not leave young children alone with a dog, especially one that you are not familiar with;
– Do not try to play or bother a dog who is eating or feeding her puppies;
– When approaching a dog, do so slowly and cautiously and give the dog the chance to approach you first; and
– If a dog does become aggressive, do not run away or scream. Stay calm, move slowly, and do not make eye contact with the dog.
Are You A Dog Bite Victim?
Were you the victim of a dog bite? If so, the owner of the dog may be liable for damages due to injuries that were caused by their dog. Contact the Fort Lauderdale dog bite attorneys at Boone & Davis and let us fight for the rights and compensation that you deserve.