Dog Bites

Representing Dogbite Victims in Miami-Dade County, Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale area), Palm Beach County, Monroe County (Key Largo to Key West), Lee County (Ft. Myers) and throughout the State of Florida

More than 4.7 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs on an annual basis, and approximately one out of every six bites is serious enough to require medical attention. If you or your child has suffered scarring or other injuries after being bitten or attacked by a dog, it is important to know your legal rights.

Florida Dog Bite Law

Unlike some other states, Florida is not a state “one-bite” state where a previous dog bite incident involving the dog is a prerequisite for finding liability on the part of the dog’s owner. That is, a Florida dog owner may well be liable for the injuries caused by the dog even if the dog has never had a previous “bite” incident.

Strict Liability Claim

Florida is a strict liability state, meaning that the dog owner has strict liability for injuries resulting from the bite under Florida Statute 764.04. Under a strict liability cause of action, the plaintiff will not have to prove the elements of a typical negligence action to recover damages, but will have to provide that the named defendant was the owner of the dog.  If it finds that the victim antagonized or provoked the dog, the jury can, however, apportion a percentage of fault to the victim. Any jury award would then be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to the victim.

Florida’s strict liability statute also provides that the defendant can get off the hook for a strict liability claim if, at the time of the attack, a conspicuous sign or warning (e.g., “Bad Dog”) had been posted in a prominent place. This exception does not apply if the victim was under the age of 6.

Florida’s strict liability statute states that the remedy provided by the statute is in addition to and cumulative with any other remedy provided by statute or common law.  Thus, dog bite lawsuits will generally include a count for both strict liability under Florida Statute 764.04 and a general negligence claim. The inclusion of a general negligence claim is important because it will also serve as backup claim in the event that the strict liability claim does not apply (e.g., if the person in charge of the dog at the time of the bite was not the actual owner).

Also, some courts have held that the definition of “owner” contemplated by Florida Statute 764.04 does not include police/sheriff departments, and that the strict liability statute therefore does not apply where the victim was bitten by a police dog. In such a situation, the victim’s remedy would be through a general negligence cause of action.

Dog Bite Injuries

Damages for dog bite injuries may include both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are calculable/provable damages such as lost wages, medical expenses, future and past medical expenses, potential future lost wages, and/or lost wages, Non-economic damages are more subjective in nature and include damages related to the pain and suffering of the victim and any associated psychological trauma (e.g., nightmares, disfiguration, post-traumatic stress syndrome, etc.).

If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a dog bite or dog attack, call us at (305) 279-4740 or contact us online for a FREE consultation to discuss your legal options.

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