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Dog Bites

Dog Bite Attorneys

What Are Dog Bite Laws in Florida?

Floridians are at greater risk of dog bite injuries than those across the country, and animal attacks are a significant cause of nonfatal injuries in the state. The Insurance Information Institute revealed Florida ranked second for dog bites and other related injuries among national statistics. 

Although most dog bite injuries are non-life-threatening, they are particularly traumatic because children are often victims. Despite breed-specific legislation in many states, the Tampa Bay area, including Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, and Pasco County, does not currently have laws restricting commonly known dangerous breeds. 

If you were injured from an animal attack, you could hold dog owners responsible by consulting a dog bite lawyer who can explain your legal rights and options. 

Who is Liable for Dog Bite Injuries in Tampa Bay? 

florida dog bite laws, The Fran Haasch Law Group

Florida Statute 767.04 is the main law that pertains to dog bites in the state. This statute follows “strict liability,” which makes the owner of any dog that bites somebody strictly liable for damages suffered by the victim. This means that even if the dog has never shown any aggression before, and even if the owner had no idea of the dog’s dangerous propensities, he or she would still be held responsible for any injuries inflicted on the person bitten.

This rule distinguishes Florida’s dog bite statute from similar statutes in other states. For example, the “one bite rule” in many states provides dog owners with liability protection in the first incident of a dog bite or attack. 

Negligence in Dog Bite Claims

Under Florida’s dog bite law, dog bite victims in Florida do not need to show that the owner was negligent. Owners of a dog that bites any person are liable regardless of whether such person was attacked in a public or private place, as long as the victim was lawfully present on such property.  

However, dog owners may be found negligent if they violate any dog-related statutes under Florida law. These violations include letting a dog roam freely and unsupervised in a neighborhood or walking a dog without a leash. 

What Are Exceptions to Florida’s Strict Liability Statute? 

While Florida’s statute for dog bites does exercise strict liability, there are several circumstances in which a dog owner may not be held liable if their dog bites another person:

  • The bitten victim was on the owner’s private property unlawfully without an imposed duty or state law to uphold
  • A “Beware of Dog” or “Bad Dog” sign was on his or her premises and readily visible and readable for those entering the property. However, strict liability still applies if the victim is under six years old.

In some circumstances, a dog owner may dispute that a bitten person was partially responsible for the incident under Florida’s comparative negligence rules. If a bitten person’s negligence contributed to the attack, a judge may rule that compensation should be adjusted by the percentage that a victim was responsible for. 

What Are Intentional Torts in Dog Bite Cases? 

dog, growling

An intentional tort, such as an assault, requires a dog owner’s specific intent to cause the dog to bite another person. In the context of a dog bite, intentional torts usually arise in cases of provocation, where such owner provokes, incites, or encourages the dog to bite someone. 

In these situations, the persons bitten may be entitled to compensation for injuries and damages they sustained from the incident. 

What to Do After a Dog Bite to Protect Your Legal Rights

If you are a dog bite victim and were attacked without provocation while lawfully on public or private property, here are a few steps to strengthen your dog bite claim:

  1. Document your injuries by taking pictures throughout your recovery period, particularly if you find them progressing in severity. 
  2. Contact the appropriate animal control authority serving the area where the attack occurred. If you file a report with your local animal control agency, their investigation might help your case and address any future safety and welfare concerns.
  3. Seek immediate medical attention. Medical records and paperwork from consistent monitoring from your doctor will strengthen your animal attack case. 
  4. Reach out to witnesses that may have seen the attack and ask to record their statements. 
  5. Save clothing worn during the attack or any other physical evidence that could corroborate your claim. 
  6. Contact a dog bite lawyer who can begin gathering evidence as soon as possible. 

Damages You Can Recover in a Dog Bite Case

In a Florida dog bite case, you may be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages have a specific monetary value, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Noneconomic damages are more subjective and can include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Contact a Dog Bite Lawyer at The Fran Haasch Law Group

What Are Dog Bite Laws in Florida?

If you have sustained injuries resulting from a dog bite incident, you should contact an experienced Tampa Bay dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. The personal injury attorneys at The Fran Haasch Law Group can help you recover monetary compensation for your injuries and damages.Our attorneys are prepared to help you navigate the legal process and work toward securing the maximum compensation you are owed. Call (727) 784-8191 or contact us online to get started on receiving maximum compensation for your personal injury case.

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