Whether you were recently bit by a dog or you’re a pet owner yourself. You may be curious about the legal consequences when a dog bites a stranger or guest. Interestingly, each state has different ways of handling these cases. But today, we’re going to discuss Florida dog bite law to get you the information you’re looking for.
Florida Dog Bite Law
We’re going to cover a number of important points in this article, including:
- The statute of limitations deadline in Florida’s civil court for filing a dog bite lawsuit
- Florida’s dog bite statute
- Florida’s status as a “strict liability” state for dog bite injuries
- How a Florida dog owner may defend themselves in response to personal injury lawsuits related to their pet
The Statute of Limitations in Florida for Dog Bite Lawsuits
A statute of limitations is a strict legal timeline for your right to file a lawsuit in your state’s civil court system. Depending on the nature of your lawsuit, these timelines can vary.
In Florida, a lawsuit over a dog bite injury would be filed as a personal injury claim. According to Florida Statutes section 95.11, a person has four years from the day the bite took place to file their case. After those four years are up, your legal options become very limited. In most cases, Florida civil court will dismiss these cases altogether. There are only rare circumstances when an extension will be command.
The Florida dog bite law statute of limitations is one reason it’s so important to contact a lawyer right away if you are bit by a dog. A personal injury lawyer can help guide your next steps, including helping you determine what kind of compensation might be owing to you.
Florida’s Dog Bite Statute
You’ll find Florida’s dog bite statute in Florida Statutes section 767.04.
As the statute explains:
“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 suffer by persons who got bite, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.
The statute also goes on to explain when a dog owner may not be liable for dog bite injuries from their pet:
“However, any negligence on the part of the person bitten. The proximate cause of the biting incident reduces the liability of the owner of the dog. The percentage that the bitten person’s negligence contributed to the biting incident. A person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this act when the person is on such property in the performance of any duty will impose upon him or her by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when the person is on such property upon invitation, expressed or implied, of the owner. However, the owner is not liable, except as to a person under the age of 6, or unless the damages are proximate will cause 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.” The remedy provided by this section is in addition to and cumulative with any other remedy provided by statute or common law.”
Florida is a “Strict Liability” State
Understandably, the circumstances surrounding dog bites and Florida dog bite law can be confusing at best. You might not be sure whether you as a pet owner are liable for someone’s injuries. On the other hand, if you are bit by someone else’s dog, you may be unsure of whether your injuries considering a result of your own actions.
This is yet another example of why having a Florida personal injury attorney’s help is so important in these cases.
On the subject of liability, let’s also discuss Florida’s status as a “strict liability” state. What does this mean?
Well, most states follow one of two legal dog bite concepts: strict liability or one-bite. (Please note, some states have additional conditions for their general liability rules)
Several states, including South Dakota, Arkansas, and Mississippi follow a one-bite rule.
According to this rule, “the owner of a domesticated animal (e.g., a dog) will be held strictly liable for injuries caused by the animal only if the owner knew or should have known about the animal’s dangerous or vicious propensities, which have been manifested in the past. The burden of proof is on the injured party to show that the animal owner possessed this knowledge. The “one-bite” rule originated in common law and has been rejected or modified by most states, either by statute or by case law, with regard to dogs.”
Most states, including Florida, have a strict liability status when it comes to dog bite law. This means the defendant will be liable if a certain event (i.e, a dog bite) occurs, regardless of whether the defendant could have done anything to prevent the bite from occurring.
Essentially, under Florida dog bite law, the dog owner will be liable for any injuries or damage. That is, provided the person who was bit did not trespass onto their property or provoke the animal in any way.
When Can Victims Recover Compensation Under Florida Dog Bite Law?
If you were bit by a dog in Florida, you are likely curious about your options when it comes to compensation. There are, in fact, many cases in which a victim may entitle to compensation after a dog bite injury. For example, if they missed work or are unable to work due to an injury or incident. In this case, they could entitle to compensation for time misses and wages.
Here are three common circumstances under Florida dog bite law that can signify whether a victim entitle to compensation:
- Negligence: When a dog owner fails to provide a level of care expected of a reasonable person in the same circumstances
- Negligence per se: In the case of an owner violating statutes and regulations meant to protect the public. It is as negligence per se and it may mean their victims entitle to compensation.
- Intentional tort: If a dog owner intentionally gets their dog to attack a victim, this is a battery
Do You Have More Questions About Florida Dog Bite Law?
If you were the victim of a dog bite or attack in Florida, you are understandably shaken up and confusing. It can be difficult to know what your next steps should be. If you sustained serious injuries, you may also be facing additional stress from missing work or ongoing medical bills.
But we are here to help!
The experienced team at Garcia Law is here to fight for you. We know Florida dog bite law inside and out, and we’re ready to put our experience to work for you.
Click here to contact Garcia Law an experienced personal injury attorney on the Treasure Coast today: (772) 871-6441