Dog owners can be liable when their dog bites another person and causes injuries in Florida. If you or a loved one suffered serious harm from a dog bite, you should understand your options for filing an insurance claim or a dog bite injury lawsuit.
Tell us about your case during a free case evaluation with a dog bite lawyer in Palm Bay, FL. We can explain your legal options and how you can begin seeking compensation for your injuries.
Florida’s Dog Bite Statute
The Florida dog bite statute (§767.04) makes dog owners strictly liable when their dog bites someone. Unless an exception applies, the dog owner is responsible for any damages caused by a dog bite.
Even if the dog has never bitten anyone before, the owner is still responsible. This is true even if the dog is trained well and not aggressive.
Dog bite victims may have a right to seek compensation if a dog bites them in a public place or while lawfully present on private property. This includes being an invited guest in the dog owner’s home. This also includes individuals who are on private property to complete their lawful duties, such as a postal delivery person.
However, there are some situations that could affect your ability to recover compensation for dog bite injuries. Some facts could limit the amount of your recovery, while others could completely bar your claim.
Comparative Negligence in Dog Bite Cases
The first important limitation on a dog owner’s liability for dog bites is the doctrine of comparative negligence (§768.81). When the dog bite victim’s own negligence contributed to their injuries, their damage award may be limited, based on their percentage of negligence.
For example, a dog bite victim may provoke a dog, causing the dog to bite them in retaliation. If it is determined that the victim’s negligence contributed to 50 percent of the biting incident, then they would only be able to recover half of their damages from the dog owner.
If you want to know how comparative negligence could apply to your case, call 1-800-747-3733 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Palm Bay personal injury attorneys.
“Bad Dog” Warning Sign
Florida’s dog bite law also gives dog owners the opportunity to warn visitors that the dog may bite them. If the dog owner prominently displays a sign with the words “Bad Dog” written on it, the owner may not face liability for any dog bite injuries.
There are two situations where the warning will not protect a dog owner from liability:
- The dog bite victim is a child under the age of six.
- The dog owner’s negligent actions or omissions proximately caused the dog bite injuries.
For example, the owner may keep the dog in a cage when visitors are over for safety reasons. If the owner lets the dog out of the cage and the dog bites a visitor, the owner’s negligence may have caused the injuries. The owner may be responsible, even if the “Bad Dog” sign was properly displayed.
Negligence by the owner can also result in liability in other cases. If the owner does not leash their dog in a public place, this could expose them to liability for negligence if the dog bites a person.
Compensation Recovery Obstacles for Dog Bite Claims
If you are trespassing on private property and are bitten by a dog, the Florida dog bite strict liability statute generally will not apply because you were not lawfully present on the property (§768.075). You may still want to talk to an attorney about your case to determine if you have another legal basis to seek compensation for your injuries.
Statute of Limitations
Your claim can also be barred if you wait too long to file a lawsuit or pursue your claim. Florida generally has a four-year statute of limitations for dog bite cases, but you may want to see an attorney as soon as possible after your dog bite incident.
Once you have sought medical treatment for your injuries, schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss your options.
Financial Responsibility for Dog Bite Injuries
Some insurance policies may cover dog bite injuries. If you are injured in the dog owner’s home, their homeowner’s insurance may cover your injuries. Some dog owners also carry pet liability insurance to cover these incidents.
If there is no insurance to cover your injuries, you may still have the option to file a dog bite injury lawsuit. The financial solvency of the other party will be an important factor for you and your attorney to consider before moving forward with litigation.
While it is hard to say what your case is worth, Anidjar & Levine can help. We can help you seek compensation for any damages related to your injuries. This includes medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
The other party may offer a settlement for your injuries that you have the option to accept, reject, or make a counter-offer. If the settlement is not fair, you can go to trial to have a jury decide your case.
Consult with a Palm Bay Dog Bite Lawyer
Get help determining how dog bite laws apply to your case by talking to a dog bite lawyer in Palm Bay, FL during a free case evaluation.
Call Anidjar & Levine at 1-800-747-3733 to schedule your consultation. Our attorneys represent dog bite cases on a contingency-fee basis. You will not pay any upfront legal fees, and we are only paid once you receive compensation for your injuries.
The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine handles personal injury cases throughout Florida. If you are seriously injured in an accident, we can help you seek the compensation you deserve.