How Florida’s laws handle personal injury cases involving dog bites
Pet owners are ultimately responsible for the behavior of their pets, and that includes when a pet bites someone. If you’ve been injured by a dog bite in the state of Florida, you do have the right to sue for compensation. Here’s an overview of Florida laws concerning dog bites.
Florida’s Dog Bite Statute
Under Florida’s Dog Bite 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…is liable for the damages suffered by the persons bitten.
This statute holds true regardless of whether or not a dog owner has prior knowledge of the dog’s aggressiveness, which makes Florida a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites.
While Florida’s statute for dog bites does exercise strict liability, there are a couple of instances in which a dog owner may not be held liable if their dog bites another person.
First, if the bitten person was on the owner’s private property unlawfully, the owner will likely not be held liable. To be on someone’s property unlawfully means being present without an imposed duty or law to uphold.
Secondly, an owner may also not be held liable if he or she has a “Beware of Dog” sign readily visible and readable for those entering the property. However, if the victim in this situation is under 6, strict liability is upheld.
In addition to strict liability laws, Florida also enacts the laws of comparative negligence. This means that a dog owner may dispute that a bitten person was partially responsible for the incident.
For example, if a victim’s negligence also had something to do with the dog bite, a judge may rule that his or her compensation should be adjusted accordingly. If a victim is deemed to have been 25% responsible for a dog bite, he or she will only receive 75% of the total compensation. Comparative negligence is a common defense for dog owners.
Legal Damages from Dog Bite Claims
Every claim is different, but the state of Florida does allow dog bite victims to collect compensation for their losses. Victims can recover both economic and non-economic damages to cover:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages and time at work
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
Animal Attacks on Children
It’s an unfortunate statistic, but small children are most vulnerable to dog bites, and attacks tend to be more serious or fatal for children. In this case, the child’s parents have the right to file a personal injury claim against the dog’s owners or a wrongful death claim should the injuries prove fatal. Even though the loss is insurmountable, this option does give families a means of recovering financially after such a devastating incident.
When You Should Sue for Dog Bite Injuries
If you or someone you love has fallen victim to a dog bite, you do have the right to sue; however, it’s best not to go into a lawsuit lightly.
This is mostly due to cost. If you suffered a significant loss of money due to your injuries, then a lawsuit is a great option for recovering. However, it is important to note that there are costs involved in both hiring an attorney and filing a claim. Be sure to take this into account making your decision.
If you feel that you are owed compensation to recover from your dog bite injuries, the Tampa personal injury attorneys at Lorenzo & Lorenzo can help. We have an extensive understanding of Florida law and the legal knowledge you need to be successful in your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.