Recovering Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries
When it comes to liability for dog bites, Florida abides by the legal theory of strict liability. This means that a dog’s owner will almost always be held financially responsible for injuries that his or her animal causes, regardless of whether the owner knew that the dog was aggressive. Filing these types of claims can still be difficult, especially for those who are suffering from serious injuries, so if you or a loved one were recently attacked by someone else’s dog, it is critical to speak with an experienced The Villages dog bite attorney who can help handle your claim.
Animal Owner Liability
Under Florida law, a dog’s owner will automatically be held liable for injuries that the animal inflicts on someone else if the injured party was:
- In a public place; or
- On private property, including the dog owner’s property.
This is true regardless of whether the dog’s owner had knowledge of the animal’s aggression or propensity to bite. It is also true, however, that any negligence on the part of the person who was bitten can reduce the owner’s liability if those actions played a role in causing the dog to attack. In these cases, the injured party’s damages award will be reduced by his or her degree of fault in causing the injury.
It’s also important to note that Florida’s strict liability law only covers injuries caused by dog bites, so if a person is injured by a dog in another way then he or she will need to prove that the owner’s negligence can be directly linked to the injury. If, for instance, a large dog jumped up on a person walking on the sidewalk and knocked him or her down, breaking that person’s arm, then the injured party would need to provide proof that the owner’s lack of care caused the accident. Proof that a dog was not on a leash or otherwise restrained, for instance, is often enough to demonstrate negligence in these situations.
Strict Liability Exceptions
Although Florida is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites, there is an exception to this general rule that applies in cases where the owner had displayed a “Bad Dog” sign on his or her premises. In these situations, the owner will not usually be held liable for injuries caused by that dog unless:
- The victim is under the age of six years old; or
- The injury was proximately caused by the owner’s negligent act or omission.
Plaintiffs who can prove that one of these elements is fulfilled can overcome a defendant’s argument that the injured party accepted the risk by coming onto a property with a warning sign.
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Florida dog bite victims must file their claims against an animal’s owner within four years of the date of the attack. Failing to file a claim before this deadline will almost always result in a case being dismissed, so if you were recently bitten by someone else’s dog, please call us at our Villages 352-205-4495 office or Ocala office 352-484-0775 to speak with an experienced dog bite lawyer at the Glover Law Firm to learn more about your own filing requirements.