When people are bitten by dogs, the resulting injuries can be severe. Dog bites can not only cause deep cuts or broken bones, but also infections, and perhaps even rabies. However, just because a person is bitten and injured by a dog does not automatically mean that the dog’s owner is liable.
Florida’s legislature has set out specific rules for when a dog owner is liable for damages caused by their pets, as well as steps they can take to limit their liability. Distinguished dog bite lawyers consult with clients to evaluate their cases. If the dog’s owner is liable, a Dunedin dog bite lawyer can fight for the fair compensation that clients deserve.
Dog Bite Laws in Florida
Many states have enacted what are known as “one bite laws.” Essentially, these laws allow dog owners to get away with one instance where their dog attacks a person. Florida has no such law. Florida Statute 767.04 states that a dog owner is strictly liable for any bite that occurs in public. Strict liability is a legal concept that places automatic responsibility on a person for damages that result from their actions.
Additionally, the owner is liable for all bites that occur on their property if the bitten person had a right to be on the land. The statute specifically states that the previous record of viciousness on the part of the dog is irrelevant to the case. There are several interesting nuances to this statute. For an owner to be liable to people bitten on private property, the bitten person cannot be a trespasser. In short, only people on official business, such as mailmen, meter readers, or people with express permission to be on the property, are protected.
Dunedin dog bite law also allows an owner to avoid liability if they place a sign on their property that explicitly states, “Bad Dog.” This does not apply if the bitten party is under seven years of age. One other way that a plaintiff may be able to recover damages, despite the presence of the “Bad Dog” sign, is through the traditional framework of negligence. While strict liability holds true in dog bite cases where the sign is not present, even if a sign is properly placed, the plaintiff may still recover damages if he can demonstrate that the dog was negligently handled.
Negligence and Statute of Limitations
Damages may also be limited by a plaintiff’s own negligence. In all personal injury cases, Florida utilizes the theory of pure comparative negligence. This states that a plaintiff will only recover damages proportionate to the defendant’s fault in the case.
For example, a jury may find that the dog did bite the plaintiff, but the plaintiff was teasing the dog beforehand. If a jury finds that the plaintiff was therefore 40 percent responsible for the bite, the plaintiff will only recover 60 percent of his damages.
As in all personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is four years under Florida Statute 95.11. This is a time limit within which individuals and a Dunedin dog bite lawyer have to file a case in court. Time is of the essence in all dog bite cases.
How an Attorney can Help
Dealing with a legal case involving a dog bite can be complex. While in many cases, such as dog bites in public, an owner is automatically liable for god bites. However, on private property, the owner’s liability can be eliminated by the placement of a sign or the plaintiff’s reason for being on the land.
Experienced personal injury attorneys will work with you to understand your case and how it fits within Florida’s dog bite laws. Dog bites can result in serious injury. Do not take a chance with insurance companies or unresponsive defendants. Dunedin dog bite attorneys will guide you through your case to fight for the compensation that you deserve.