Do Beware of Dog Signs Relieve Owners of Liability?
Most of us have walked or driven by homes with Beware of Dog signs displayed prominently on gates and fences. Many dog owners mistakenly believe that taking this step is enough to keep them from being held liable in the event that their dog eventually bites someone. The reality is that under Florida law, simply posting this type of sign isn’t a foolproof defense to liability. Instead, dog bite victims can challenge this defense by arguing that the sign didn’t provide them with adequate notice of the dangers posed by the dog and if successful, could still be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. To ensure that you have the best possible chance of successfully defeating a dog owner’s claim that he or she is immune from liability, please call one of our experienced Florida dog bite attorneys for assistance.
Under Florida law, the owner of a dog that bites someone who is in a public place, or lawfully on private property, can be held liable for damages suffered by the victim. This is true regardless of whether the dog had behaved aggressively in the past. There is an exception to this rule, however, that applies to owners who place Beware of Dog signs on their property.
Dog Owner Defenses
Owners who place these signs on their property will generally not be held liable for injuries inflicted by their animal unless:
- The victim is under the age of six years old; or
- The owner’s negligent act or omission proximately caused the attack.
Further, to fall under this exception, the defendant must be able to prove that the sign in question was displayed in a prominent place on his or her property and that it was easily readable. This means that if a person posted a Beware of Dog sign with small characters, at ground level, and far back from the street, it would probably not be considered sufficiently obvious to allow the owner to escape liability. In these cases, the court will usually also assess where the person was when he or she was attacked. If, for instance, a dog was able to bite someone through a fence while the victim was standing on the sidewalk, the owner’s placement of a Beware of Dog sign would probably not save that individual from liability, as the victim was on public property.
Ultimately, whether a dog owner’s signage defense is successful will depend on the specific facts of the case, including: where the victim was standing when attacked, whether the sign was displayed in a prominent position, and the age of the victim. For an assessment of how the facts of your own case will likely be weighed in court, please call our office today.
Contact Our Legal Team to Schedule a Free Case Review
To speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale dog bite lawyer about your own options when it comes to recovering compensation after an animal attack, please call Boone & Davis at 954-566-9919 or send us an online message today.