Dolman Law Group is an award winning Clearwater car accident and personal injury law firm. Matthew Dolman has been selected as a Florida Super Lawyers in 2013, 2014 and 2015 by his colleagues. Mr. Dolman has been nominated as a top 100 trial attorney and top 40 under 40 by National Trial Lawyers. He is a lifetime member of both the Million Dollar and Multi-Million Dollar Advocacy Forum.
Friday, April 3, 2015
Liability For Dog Bites In Florida
are frightening occurrences that can cause serious injury. However, the ability
of a dog bite victim to receive compensation from a dog owner varies widely
from state to state due to the difference in state dog bite laws. The following
is some information regarding dog bite laws and dog owner liability in Florida.
If you or your child has suffered injury from a dog bite, you should never
hesitate to contact an experienced attorney who understands dog
bite laws and cases in Florida.
require that a dog owner know that a dog has a propensity to bite based on
previous behavior. This is often referred to as the “one bite rule” since dogs
in these states are generally allowed one bite before an owner is held legally
liable. Florida law,1 however, sets out a
strict liability standard for dogs bites, which means that dog owners may be
held responsible in many situations whether or not the dog has ever displayed
vicious or dangerous behavior in the past. This may be true if the bite
occurred in a public place, on private property, or even on the private
property of the dog owner. This strict liability standard gives dog victims are
greater opportunity to recover for their injuries and losses even if a dog had
never before attacked anyone.
to strict liability
is not automatic in dog bite cases simply because a victim brings a legal
claim, however, as the dog owner does have the opportunity to raise certain
legal defenses that may limit or eliminate liability completely. The following
are some common and available legal defenses in dog bite cases:
victim of the dog bite was a trespasser on the dog owner's property and did not
have either express or implied permission to be present on the premises. Note
that mail workers or others who are carrying out duties under state or federal
laws are not considered to be trespassers.
victim of the dog bite provoked the dog in some manner to incite the attack.
dog owner had a sign on their property that was easily visible and prominently
displayed that included the words “Bad Dog.” This defense only applies if the
bite took place on the property and if the victim was over the age of six
(since many children under the age of six may not be able to read and/or
understand the implication of such a sign).
issues in Florida cases involving small children
some particularly legal issues that may arise if a dog bite victim is under the
age of six in Florida. First, as part of most dog bite cases, the court must
determine whether the bite victim was comparatively negligent in provoking the
dog or otherwise negligently ignoring the potential dangers of their actions
around the dog. However, Florida law assumes that children under six years old
do not have the capacity to understand the danger or to be negligent in this
manner. Therefore, provocation is generally not an available defense when the
victim is under six.
the courts can also look at whether a parent's failure to adequately supervise
their child led to the occurrence of the dog bite. If the parent did not
properly supervise the child, they may be found to be comparatively negligent2 and the compensation from the dog
owner may be reduced accordingly. Since a child generally will not file a claim
against their own parent, this often results in a smaller recovery.
a free consultation with an experienced Clearwater dog bite attorney today
As you can
see, many different legal issues may arise in dog bite cases, with both parties
often arguing back and forth about who should be held responsible or not. For
this reason, you should always seek assistance from an experienced attorney who
knows how to bring dog bite claims under Florida law. At the Dolman Law Group, we believe dog bite victims should be able to
recover for all of their physical and mental injuries, so please call us today
at 727-451-6900 for a free consultation.
Clearwater, FL 33756 (727) 451-6900