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.

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 or lawsuit seeking compensation for various 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. Florida’s dog bite law holds a dog’s owner strictly liable when a dog harms someone.

That means you can typically file a claim or lawsuit seeking compensation whenever a dog bites you in Florida. You may do so if a dog bit you in a public place or on private property you had a legal right to be on. The owner is liable 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

There are some exceptions or potential circumstances in which a dog’s owner might not be liable for a dog bite. An owner may not be liable if a dog bites someone on their property if they have already put out a “Bad Dog” sign letting 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 for dog attacks on their property if they put out signage warning about the possibility of said attacks.

That said, a “Bad Dog” sign must be “clearly readable” and in a “prominent place” on a dog owner’s property for it to protect them from liability. Even if a dog’s owner technically put out a sign, they may still be liable if a victim can show 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 on private property, 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 may have to prove you had a legal right to be on a property if a dog owner or insurance company falsely claims you were trespassing at the time of an attack.

The Provocation Defense for a Dog Bite in Florida

The law states the degree to which a dog bite victim’s own actions or carelessness contributed to their injuries can influence how much compensation they deserve. For example, a dog’s owner or an insurer may argue you don’t deserve the compensation you’re asking for 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.

Thus, you would have to estimate the cost of future medical expenses to seek all the compensation you may deserve for economic losses. Similarly, you might have to estimate the long-term financial impact of loss of employment prospects 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?

You 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

Navigating your legal rights after a Florida dog attack is easier when you have proper legal representation from someone familiar with the Florida dog bite laws and how they apply to your case. That’s exactly what you’ll find at Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers. For more information about what a Florida dog bite lawyer can do for you, contact us online or call us at (619) 233-5020 for a free case review.

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