FLORIDA LAW – STRICT LIABILITY
Florida is a strict liability state. The relevant statute (767.04) reads that “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, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.” This means that the dog owner is liable for injuries even if the dog had never bit anyone before or was not considered a dangerous breed.
Further the statute explains “any negligence on the part of the person bitten that is a proximate cause of the biting incident reduces the liability of the owner of the dog by the percentage that the bitten person’s negligence contributed to the biting incident.” This means that even though the dog owner is liable, your damages could be reduced by the percentage that you are found responsible for the incident. Some of the arguments for comparative negligence include unlawfully being on the property where the bite occurred, provoking the animal, or if the animal was defending a person from a perceived threat and/or attack.
Some damages are obvious, such as an injury like a wound or cut, permanent scarring, and/or permanent disfigurement. However, other damages may also occur, some examples of these are high medical bills for treatment, prescription costs, surgery, or scar revision procedures. In addition, wage loss for time missed from work or even having to hire paid assistance for tasks or jobs you can no longer perform at home, can be considered.
Dog bites can be very traumatic injuries and most people do not understand what is necessary to bring forth a claim for damages. If you or someone you know has questions about a dog bite incident or any other injury claim, please feel free to reach out to our office. We know the difficulties of navigating any type of injury claim and want to help you get through it.