Dog Bite: No Big Deal, Or Is it?

/ / Law Blog

If you were bitten by a dog in Florida, you may likely have a personal injury claim against the dog owner. It all depends on the circumstances of where you were when the incident happened, whether the dog has a history of violence and whether the dog owner took necessary precautions. All of that is to say that a dog bite can be a big deal and could result in compensation for you if you were the victim of such a dog attack.

In this article, we are going to talk about various aspects of Florida’s dog bite laws, including dog owner liability, Florida’s “dangerous dog” statute, and whether there are limits on a dog owner’s liability.  

If, after reading this blog, you have additional questions about your own situation, then we welcome you to contact the personal injury lawyers in Stuart, FL at Crary Buchanan. At Crary Buchanan, we are proud of our standard of excellence, which has allowed us to thrive as one of the oldest law firms on Florida’s Treasure Coast.  

Our personal injury attorneys in Stuart are passionate about giving you the highest quality representation. Call us today at 772-287-2600, or schedule a free estate planning to consult online with our online contact form

Dog Owner Liability in Florida

Florida is a “strict liability” state with regard to dog bites. What “strict liability” means is that a dog owner can be held legally responsible for a dog biting a victim even if the dog owner had no knowledge, and no way of knowing, that the dog could be aggressive. In other words, a victim of a dog bite does not need to prove that the dog owner was negligent (failed to use reasonable care) in any way. Rather, under most circumstances, the dog owner is liable even if he or she behaved reasonably with regard to the dog.

Thus, if you were bitten by, and thus injured by, a dog, you can file a personal injury suit against the dog owner as long as you were legally allowed to be in the location that the incident happened, i.e., you were either in a public space or lawfully on private property.  

That said, even if you were not lawfully on private property when the incident happened, you could still bring a personal injury suit against the dog owner. But strict liability would not apply. Instead, you would need to prove that the dog owner was negligent in some way.

There are generally four types of claims that dog-bite victims make in personal injury suits when seeking compensation for their injuries.  

1. Negligence – If the dog owner failed to provide reasonable care when handling the dog, then the owner can be held liable for injuries caused by the dog.

2. Negligence per se – If a dog owner failed to follow a law or regulation regarding animals, then that failure is sufficient to hold him or her responsible for injuries caused by the dog.

3. “One Free Bite Rule” – Any owner who knows of a dog’s history of aggressive behavior (i.e., the dog has already gotten one free bite) then the owner can be held responsible.

4. Intentional Tort – If the dog owner actually intended for a dog to attack someone, then that owner can be sued for a claim similar to assault and battery (or may even be exposed to criminal liability).

Florida’s Dangerous Dog Statute

Those who own a dog designated as a “dangerous dog” must take additional precautions under Florida law. A dangerous dog is one that has:

1. Aggressively attacked, bitten, or caused severe injury to someone;
2. Seriously injured or killed another animal more than once; or
3. Chased or aggressively approached a person without provocation.

Limits on a Dog Owner’s Responsibility

If you are a dog owner, you might be reading this with some trepidation, given the exposure to liability if your dog does something unexpected and hurts someone. To assuage your fears a bit, there are some things that will reduce or even eliminate your liability in connection with an incident if your dog bites someone. 

In short, you may not be held legally responsible for your dog’s behavior if:

1. The victim was unlawfully on your property;
2. The victim was provoking your dog; or
3. The dog was defending you (or someone else) when it sensed a perceived attack by the victim.

In sum, it is important to know that in Florida if you were bitten by a dog, you might be able to obtain personal injury damages to compensate you for your injuries. And, if you own a dog in Florida, you need to understand that such ownership comes with some legal responsibilities.

Let the Personal Injury Lawyers in Stuart, at Crary Buchanan, Help with Your Dog Bite Case

Many factors can contribute to a dog bite incident, and dog bite might not be as minor as you initially may think. It doesn’t matter what type of injury you sustained.  You have the right to seek compensation if a dog caused you injury – even if you were partially responsible for the accident. Dog bite injuries can lead to a variety of expenses, and a personal injury claim can compensate you for these costs. Yet, you need the right legal advocate on your side to get full and fair compensation for your damages. If you or someone you love suffered an injury, speak with a Stuart, Martin County personal injury attorney from Crary Buchanan. We want to help you recover the money you need.

At Crary Buchanan, we are committed to providing clients with exceptional service in every aspect of personal injury law. You can depend upon our 85 years of experience in the Florida legal industry.  

Our clients are more than case numbers; they are people. We recognize that you are an individual with unique needs and expectations. Our team is here to meet your need and exceed your expectations. When you work with us, you can have confidence that a caring legal advocate is on your side.

There is no need to be intimidated by making a personal injury claim after an auto or truck accident when you have the support of the talented team at Crary Buchanan. If you have more questions or want a dedicated personal injury attorney to help you, call 772-287-2600 or schedule a free consult online with our online contact form. You can always depend on Crary Buchanan for community, experience, and trust. Call today.