All too often, we hear news reports of an individual (usually a child) being bitten by a dog. But what rights do dog bite victims have against a dog’s owner? Florida bite victims may be entitled to compensation for their injuries; however, it is important for them to understand the nature of the state’s dog bite laws.
Naples personal injury attorneys will tell you that there are two sets of laws pertaining to dog bites in Florida, one of which relates to the legal concept of negligence and the other pertains to strict liability.
Florida's Strict Liability Dog Bite Law
In Florida, dog bites are covered under strict liability laws. This means that dog owners can be held legally liable for any injuries caused by the dog, even if they weren't aware of the dog's aggressive nature. This law is different from a “one bite” law, which does not hold the owner responsible unless his or her dog has already injured someone else previously.
What Does Strict Liability Mean for Bite Victims?
Strict liability means if you are injured by a dog, its owner will be held responsible for your injuries automatically — which, in turn, equates to you having an easier time obtaining just compensation for your injuries. However, there are some exceptions to the rule.
One exception relates to whether or not you were trespassing on someone’s private property at the time of the bite. If you were a trespasser, the dog owner might not be held legally liable. Additionally, if it is determined that the victim was provoking the dog by hitting, slapping or performing some other irritating act on it, he or she may be denied compensation for the injuries incurred.
Negligence Claims for Dog Bites
Depending on the specifics of the case, bite victims may be able to file a lawsuit against a dog owner based on a negligence argument. All states have some type of negligence law and the injuries incurred from dog bites often fall under this area of law.
In order for a victim to be successful in making a negligence claim, he or she (along with the attorney handling the case), will need to demonstrate that the dog owner violated the duty of care owed and that violation resulted in the injuries sustained. For instance, dog owners generally have a duty to ensure their dogs are not roaming free and running loose.
Even if the dog is in some sort of gated area or pen, if that area is not appropriately suitable to hold a dog and the dog gets out and causes your injuries, you may have a negligence claim against the owner. You are encouraged to speak with your attorney to learn more about the role negligence may play in your particular case.
Hire a Lawyer to Help Secure the Compensation You Deserve
Individuals who are contemplating a lawsuit against a dog owner for injuries suffered as a result of his or her dog attack are encouraged to work with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who has experience handling dog bite cases. As previously mentioned, you may be entitled to compensation that can cover expenses related to your medical bills, lost wages and even pain and suffering, depending on the specifics of your case.