A dog attack can be a terrifying and debilitating experience with severe medical expenses and lasting injuries. A Pinellas County dog bite lawyer can examine your case and help to secure the legal compensation you are owed.
Do not let an owner attempt to convince you that they are not responsible for the actions of an animal. Florida law protects individuals who are the victims of dog attacks, and a skilled personal injury lawyer can guide you through the process of securing compensation for your injury.
Florida’s Dog Bite Law
Florida law provides that the owner of a dog that bites any person is liable for the damages suffered by that bite victim. In other words, dog bites laws in Pinellas County impose strict liability on the owners of dogs, meaning that the owner does not need to act negligently or recklessly with regard to the safety of their dog in order to be held liable for the damages.
It is important to note that the Florida statutes imposing strict liability for dog bites does not preclude a victim from bringing a negligence action under the common law or other statutory remedies.
A Pinellas County dog bite attorney can explain all the legal options that are available, and decide upon the best legal strategy depending upon the facts of their client’s case. Strict liability applies for dog bites occurring both in public places and on private property, and regardless of whether or not the owner of the dog had any prior knowledge of the potential viciousness of their dog.
If the negligence of the person bitten by the dog contributed to the attack, the liability (and thus the damages) of the owner can be reduced accordingly.
Under Florida law, the owner will not be held liable for a dog bite on their property if the owner of the property includes a prominent, easily readable sign with the words “Bad Dog” on the property.
This defense, however, is not a defense if the victim is under the age of 6, or if the bite was the result of a negligent act or omission of the dog owner.
Liability for Dangerous Dogs
Florida law provides criminal penalties for owners of dogs that attack people if the dog has previously been declared dangerous by animal control authorities. This designation usually will be the result of an investigation by animal control of a previous attack or aggressive behavior. Aggressive behavior short of an attack is grounds for designating a particular dog as a “dangerous dog” even though no bite has occurred.
If a dog that has been officially declared dangerous bites or attacks a person, the owner is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, with up to a year in prison.
If the dog causes severe injury or death to a person, the owner can be held liable for a felony of the third degree, which entails up to a five-year prison sentence.
Contacting a Pinellas County Dog Bite Attorney
Florida law protects individuals who have been attacked or bitten by dogs, but you will need an attorney experienced in advocating for dog attack victims to get the recovery you deserve. Reach out to a Pinellas County dog bite lawyer today.