Understanding Florida Law On Dog Bites
Being bitten by a dog can be a very traumatic experience to endure. Therefore, it is understandable and foreseeable that a person who has been bitten by a dog would attempt to sue the dog owner for the injuries he has sustained. It is important to understand the specific laws regarding dog bites in the state where the accident occurred, as dog owners can escape liability in some states simply based on the language of the relevant statute(s). The following article will discuss the laws regarding dog bites in the state of Florida.
The “one-bite” rule
One of the foundational principles of strict liability in common law is known as the “one-bite” rule. This principle asserts that a dog owner will not be held strictly liable for any injuries his dog causes unless there is evidence to show that he knew or should have known that his dog had the propensity to bite because he is either a “vicious” breed or has a tendency towards vicious behavior. For example, if a dog has bitten or attempted to bite someone in the past, that provides sufficient evidence to show that the owner should have been aware of the dog’s dangerous propensity and as such, should have taken the appropriate actions to control the dog’s dangerous behavior. Importantly, most states have either rejected this principle outright or have modified it in their statutes. Florida has rejected the “one-bite” rule and instead has adopted a strict liability approach to dog bites.
Florida law regarding dog bites
Florida Statute 767.04 proscribes Florida’s laws regarding the liability of dog owners when their dog bites an individual. This statute imposes strict liability on dog owners whose dog bites another person. This means that the owner will be held liable for his dog biting the person even if the owner himself was in no way negligent in allowing his dog to bite that person. This also means that unlike the laws of some other states, the owner can be held liable regardless of whether the dog is a “vicious” breed or whether the owner had reason to know of the dog’s propensity for viciousness.
It is important to note however, that this statute also contains a comparative negligence element. This means if the dog owner can show that the plaintiff engaged in behavior (for example, petting the dog, teasing the dog, etc.) that contributed to the injuries he sustained, the liability of the owner will be reduced by the percentage that the bitten person’s negligence contributed to the biting incident.
It is also important to point out that in Florida, the owner is not liable (unless the person bitten was under the age of 6, or the injuries were proximately caused by a negligent act or omission of the owner), if at the time of the injury the owner had displayed in a prominent place on his premises an easily readable sign including the words “Bad Dog.”
Were You Recently Bitten by a Dog? Contact a Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Attorney
If you were recently injured as a result of being bitten by a dog, our firm wants to help. Rosen Injury Law, P.A. can help you obtain compensation for any damages that you are entitled to. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys.