Understand Dog Bite Personal Injury Cases in Florida
When it comes to dog bites, Florida diverges slightly with other states with regard to owner liability.
In many states dog owners have some liability protection. In those states, dog owners are not liable for injuries to other individuals for the first time their dog bites someone if they had no reason to believe their dog was dangerous. Some call this the “one bite” rule.
The question of whether a dog owner should have known whether or not their dog is dangerous can be a complicated one. The onus in these states would be on the plaintiff, if they choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against the dog owner following a bite. The plaintiff would have to show the court and/or convince the jury that the defendant likely knew or should have known the dog could be a danger to others.
Much of this evidence would likely be considered circumstantial, and it might include whether the owner considers the dog as protection, the dog’s breed (certain breeds are considered more dangerous than others), how the dog has been treated and trained and any testimonials from other neighbors, and more.
“Strict Liability” for Dog Owners in Florida
In the other half of states, including Florida, the law dictates that dog owners are “strictly liable.” This means that regardless of the animal’s previous behavior or the owner’s knowledge of the dog’s aggressive actions and/or behavior.
In Florida, two state laws govern this strict liability.
In the first (§§ 767.01), the statute reads: “Owners of dogs shall be liable for any damage done by their dogs to a person.”
The second, (§§ 767.04), states that: The dog owner “is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”
The second statute does include some exceptions. These include the situations in which the owner has displayed a sign with the words “bad dog” in a reasonably easy-to-see location. However, this exception does not come into play if a child under age 6 is injured or if the owner was negligent beyond the posting of the sign.
Florida Ranks Second In States With Highest Deadly Dog Attack Incidents
Florida falls behind just Texas when it comes to deadly dog attacks on humans.
In 2014, there were five deadly dog attacks on humans in the state of Florida. Texas had 7 dog attack deaths.
If you come into contact with an unknown dog, you should stay calm. If the dog begins to show signs of aggression, you should stand tall and do not move if the dog charges at you. If you come across a new dog and are interested in interacting with it, you should always ask its owner first. Then, before petting it, put your hand out to allow the dog to sniff you.
Dogs, even those who do not normally exhibit aggressive behavior, can become aggressive during feeding time or while sleeping or if a mother is caring for her offspring.
Injured by a dog in Florida?
If you’ve been injured by a dog in the Fort Lauderdale area, contact the lawyers at Boone & Davis today. We have years of experience and can walk you through the possibility of filing a personal injury claim.