What Are the Liabilities for Dog Bites and Dog Injuries in Florida?
Dogs are man’s best friend. But that doesn’t mean they won’t bite, or cause harm in other ways. Florida has strict laws on dog bites, and allows the victim of a dog to sue, when the dog causes injury.
Not Just Biting
Of course, dogs can bite, and those bites can cause injury. But dogs can injure people in other ways, and they’re not all malicious or from “bad dogs.” A playful bigger dog can easily knock over an elderly person or a child if the dog jumps. A dog’s claws can lacerate skin, even if the dog is just playfully jumping on people.
No matter how the dog injures you, and regardless of whether the injury was caused from anger or viciousness or just from being overly friendly or playful, you can sue if you are injured by a dog.
The owner of a dog is liable for the injuries caused by the dog. There is no notice required—that is, the owner doesn’t have to have known the dog was dangerous, or that the dog had a propensity to bite, scratch, or jump. And no, a dog owner doesn’t get a free bite, the popular myth that says that there can be no liability for the first time a dog bites someone. That is simply false.
Because the owner doesn’t have to have done anything wrong to be liable, dog bite liability is considered to be strict liability—that is, the owner is automatically liable for the actions and injuries caused by the dog, even if the owner did nothing wrong.
The only thing an owner can do to shield him or her from some liability, is to use or to put up a “dangerous dog” sign. This will protect you from injuries caused by the dog so long as the injuries happen on your property.
Proving Dog Ownership
One problem dog bite victims may have is proving ownership of the dog. Sometimes this is easy, but sometimes it isn’t. Many people “share” dogs. Someone may be watching a dog that actually belongs to someone else. Dogs often split time between different owners in different households.
Trespassers and Provocation
Trespassers will have a harder time suing for dog injuries—if you are injured on someone else’s property by a dog, you must have been on the property legally. That includes those who enter your property as part of their job, such as a firefighter, power meter reader, or a repairman, all of whom are on your property legally, and can sue if a dog on the property injures them.
Additionally, a court can consider provocation. This involves seeing whether you as the victim did something to excite, anger, or upset the animal, causing it to bite you.
Have you been injured by a dog or an animal on someone else’s property? Call the Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys at Rosen Injury Law for help and with any questions you may have.