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Florida Dog Bite Laws

David Lee Sellers, PA May 12, 2022

Dog Biting a Person's FingerThere is no doubt that dogs are beloved pets in many households. Animals are often counted on for companionship and physical or emotional help. What happens if a dog bites or attacks someone without any warning?

If you or someone you love has been the victim of a dog attack, they should immediately reach out to a Florida dog bite attorney. The dog’s owner may be liable for injuries even if the dog has no history of biting or displaying aggressive behavior.

David Lee Sellers is a nationally respected attorney with experience in helping clients recover during this difficult time. He is ready to help victims of dog attacks seek compensation for their injuries and other damages. Set up a consultation today in Pensacola, Florida to get started.

Florida’s Dog Bite Laws

Ultimately, the owners of the pets are responsible for their animals’ behavior, including biting incidents. If you’re attacked or bitten by a dog in the state of Florida, you do have the legal right to take action to pursue financial compensation. Although dog laws vary from state to state, here are the basics of Florida laws concerning dog bites. Under Florida’s Dog Bite Statute, the owner of any dog “ that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place…is liable for the damages suffered by the persons bitten”.

Florida adheres to a "strict liability" rule in dog bite incidents. In other words, a Florida dog owner may be held liable if their dog bites someone, even if the owner had no prior knowledge or warning that the dog might bite.

Exceptions to the Statute

There are some scenarios in which a dog owner may not be held legally responsible for their dog biting someone, such as:

  • If the bite victim was on the owner’s property unlawfully

  • If the dog’s owner had a “Beware of Dog” sign on display

Comparative Negligence

Florida utilizes a “comparative negligence” system. This means that a dog owner can argue that the bite victim was partially responsible for the incident.

For example, if a victim’s negligence had something to do with the dog bite, a judge may rule that their compensation should be adjusted accordingly. If a victim is deemed to have been 50% responsible for a dog bite, they will only receive 50% of the total compensation.

Filing A Dog Bite Claim

Florida allows dog bite victims to pursue financial compensation for:

  • Past and/or future medical expenses

  • Lost wages & earning capacity

  • Pain & suffering

If someone you know has been bitten by a dog, there are a few steps a person can take to give them the best chance at winning their claim. 

  1. Seek medical attention right away. Even if the injury is seemingly minor, it can be difficult to convince the other party that any damage occurred if you simply go home after the attack. 

  2. Confirm the identity of the dog. Get names, addresses, and owner information.

  3. Document your injuries. Taking pictures provides a visual timeline that can be used to help your claim.

  4. File an official report. This means contacting animal control and your local municipality and reporting the incident.

  5. Continue keeping documentation, including medical expenses, emotional trauma, physical pain, and time away from work. 

  6. Contact a personal injury attorney. Be sure they have experience in dog bite claims. Your attorney will know the best way to move forward and seek compensation in an efficient manner. 

Speak With A Florida Dog Bite Attorney

Pet owners bear responsibility for their animals and must take necessary precautions to ensure the safety of other people. When a failure to practice safety results in a dog bite or attack on another person or animal, financial restitution may be available. Although dog bite cases can be complex, victims of dog bites do have rights. Consult with a dedicated and experienced attorney. Contact David Lee Sellers, PA in Pensacola for guidance in Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, Milton, and anywhere else in Florida.