Under Florida law, dog owners are liable for injuries caused by their animals if the dog bites another person who is either in a public place or lawfully in a private place. People injured by dogs in other ways still have an opportunity to file a personal injury claim against the owner, but FLSA 767.04 specifically deals with dog bite injuries.
Florida is a strict liability dog bite state, which means dog owners are liable if their dog bites a person. This is true even if the dog did not have a history of dog bites and there was no warning or any knowledge that the animal would bite.
What defense options do dog owners use?
Any time you file a personal injury claim against another person, you and your attorney should be prepared to counter any defense strategies the defendant may use. A dog owner in Florida has only two main options. He or she could argue that the injured party was trespassing at the time or that the injured party was also partially at fault for the bite.
The state’s dog bite laws require injured people to have “lawfully” been in the place where they were bitten to recover damages. Anyone trespassing on a dog owner’s private property is not lawfully on that property, so any dog bites that occur would not make the animal’s owner liable for an injury the bite caused.
Additionally, because Florida is a comparative negligence state, the dog owner could argue you were somehow partially at fault. Perhaps you accidentally stepped on the dog’s foot or behaved in a way that made the dog aggressive. If this strategy is successful, you may not be able to recover the full amount you otherwise would if comparative negligence were not an issue in your claim.
To learn more about Florida’s dog bite laws and how you can best proceed with your personal injury claim, contact an experienced team of personal injury attorneys with Serrano | McGuire. You can reach our Wesley Chapel Location at 813.929.4231 or our Tallahassee Location at 850.201.7210. You can also contact us online today.