What To Know About Dog Bite Laws In Florida

A dog bite can cause serious injury. Research shows approximately 800,000 Americans receive medical care every year for injuries resulting from dog attacks. What should you know about Florida dog bite law?

Your legal rights after a dog bites you can depend on where the incident occurred. For example, if the attack occurred in Florida, you may have grounds to file an insurance claim seeking compensation for losses.

Strict Liability for Dog Bites in Florida: What The Florida Dog Bite Law Says

In some states, dog bite liability is based on the legal principle or concept of negligence. In such states, you aren’t automatically guaranteed a payout if a dog bites you. To be eligible for compensation, you must show a dog bit you because its owner was unreasonably careless.

That’s not the case in Florida, which is a strict liability state. Florida’s dog bite law holds a dog’s owner strictly liable when a dog harms someone.

That means you can typically file a lawsuit seeking compensation whenever a dog bites you in Florida. If a dog bit you in a public place or on private property you had a legal right to be on. The owner can be held liable for any injuries even if they had no prior knowledge their dog was dangerous or vicious.

What You Need to Know About the “Bad Dog” Sign Exemption in Florida

Don’t know anything about exceptions to the Florida dog bite law? There are some exceptions or potential circumstances in which a dog’s owner might not be liable for a dog bite incident. An owner may not be liable if a dog bites someone on their property if they put out a “Bad Dog” sign. The words “Bad Dog” let guests know about the dangers a dog poses.

Per Florida law, unless the attack resulted from some other form of negligence on the part of the property owner, they aren’t liable  If they put out warning signs about the possibility of dog attacks, they are not liable.

The “Bad Dog” sign must be “clearly readable” and in a “prominent place” on a dog owner’s property to protect them from liability. If a dog’s owner technically put out a sign, they may be liable if a victim shows how the sign’s location prevented them from seeing or reading the sign. In addition, even if a “Bad Dog” sign is in a prominent location, an owner may be liable when a victim is six years old or younger.

The Trespassing Defense for a Dog Bite in Florida

The “Bad Dog” sign exemption isn’t the only argument a dog owner may cite to avoid liability in Florida. They may also use the trespassing defense.

When a dog bite occurs, a dog’s owner is only liable if the victim has a legal right to be on the property. Someone who has a legal right to be on a property may be someone who:

  • Has received an express or implied invitation to visit the property
  • Is on a property to perform a duty according to the laws of the state
  • Is on a property to perform their duties as a United States postal worker

A dog owner or their insurer might use this defense to justify not offering the compensation you’re seeking. You have to prove you have a legal right to be on a property if a dog owner falsely claims you were trespassing at the time of an attack.

The Provocation Defense for a Dog Bite in Florida

The law states that the degree to which a victim’s actions or carelessness contributed to their injuries influences compensation. A dog’s owner or an insurer can argue you don’t deserve compensation because you provoked the dog into attacking you.

This highlights the importance of identifying witnesses immediately after a dog attack. Witnesses may be able to explain how the attack happened. Their testimony could prove valuable if someone falsely claims a dog bites you because you provoked it.

Compensation in Dog Bite Cases in Florida

What To Know About Dog Bite Laws In Florida

Various factors can influence how much compensation you may receive after a dog bites you in Florida. When filing a claim or lawsuit, you may seek compensation for two types of losses:

  • Economic losses
  • Non-economic losses

An economic loss is a loss like medical expenses or lost wages. It’s a loss you’ve incurred as a result of your injuries that has a dollar value.

You might have to estimate the value of certain economic losses. For example, maybe a dog attack has left you with severe injuries requiring ongoing treatment. You might still have months or even years of treatment ahead of you when negotiating a settlement with an insurance company.

You would have to estimate the cost of future medical expenses to seek all the compensation for economic losses. Similarly, you might estimate the long-term financial impact of loss of employment if your injuries prevent you from returning to work indefinitely.

Your injuries may also cause struggles like pain and suffering. Technically, pain and suffering don’t have a dollar value. Legal professionals may use specialized formulas to assign dollar values to these types of losses.

(Note: Some may refer to compensation as “economic damages for a dog bite in Florida” or “non-economic damages for a dog bite in Florida.” “Damages” is the term for money a jury awards in court.)

What is the Dog Bite Lawsuit Statute of Limitations in Florida?

Dog bite victims have four years from the date of a dog attack to file a dog bite lawsuit in Florida. Act fast to avoid waiving your right to compensation.

Contact a Florida Dog Bite Lawyer

Don’t know anything about Florida dog bite law and dog owner liability in Florida? Knowing your legal rights after a Florida dog attack is easier when you have legal representation that is familiar with the Florida dog bite laws. That’s exactly what you’ll find at Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers with our personal injury attorneys. To know what a Tampa dog bite lawyer can do for you, contact us online or call our firm at (619) 233-5020 for a free case review. Our team of personal injury lawyers has the experience and skill to get you the best outcome possible for your dog bite claims.

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