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What To Know About Florida Dog Bite Laws

While dogs can be the most loyal companions, trusted friends, and lovable pets, there are times where they can cause accidents that have severe consequences. If an unexpected injury occurs, it is essential for potential plaintiffs to have a full understanding of their rights under Florida law. In this article, we will discuss liability for dog owners and how Florida law addresses dog bite cases.

Dog Bite Liability In Florida

In Florida, a dog owner may be both criminally and civilly held accountable for a dog attack. Florida is a “strict liability state,” meaning that an owner may be held liable for a dog bite, even if they had no prior knowledge of the animal’s aggressive nature. Moreover, the victim doesn’t have to prove their injuries were the result of an owner’s negligence under Florida dog bite laws. Florida law states that dog owners may be held liable for injuries if it can be proven that the dog bit the victim in a public space or on lawfully occupied private property. Even if the victim wasn’t injured in a public space or on lawfully occupied private property, they may still be able to bring a personal injury claim against the owner. The victim in such cases needs to prove the injury was a result of the owner being negligent or failing to exercise reasonable care. 

Common Law Claims

Dog bite victims may be able to seek compensation for their injuries due to the bite under one of these four types of common law claims:

  • Negligence- The owner may be found negligent if they did not provide a reasonable level of care, or a level of care similar to how someone else would’ve acted under those circumstances
  • Negligence per se- An owner may be held liable if they did not follow regulations or statutes put in place to ensure public safety
  • Intentional tort- In some cases, a claim like battery may be pursued if the owner intentionally allowed the dog to attack the victim
  • Scienter- Also referred to as the “one bite rule,” this provision holds anyone with knowledge of a dog’s attack history or previous attempted bites to be held liable for damages

Dangerous Dog Statute

Florida dog bite laws have a key statute known as the dangerous dog statute designed to protect the public from dogs that exhibit dangerous behavior. In severe cases, Florida law may declare an aggressive dog as dangerous. The owner in such situations are required to take specific precautions and follow stringent regulations regarding the animal. The owner may be held criminally liable for any injuries caused by a dangerous dog. If it is deemed dangerous, the dog must be registered with local authorities and kept in a secure location that is marked with the appropriate dangerous dog warning signs, and the dog must be restrained with a harness, leash, and muzzle if taken off the premises. 

Under Florida dog bite laws, a dangerous dog is defined as:

  • A dog that has aggressively bitten, attacked, or caused serious injury to a person. 
  • A dog that has killed or severely injured another animal repeatedly.
  • A dog that has aggressively approached or chased a person without provocation.

Contact Us Today

If you or somebody close to you was recently involved in a Florida dog bite attack, you need an experienced animal attack lawyer on your side. Call BCN Law Firm to consult with a top dog bite lawyer today.