Unfortunately, a dog’s behavior is not always predictable. Even a seemingly mild-mannered dog may lash out and attack someone without warning or without reason. For that reason, Florida has adopted a strict liability rule when it comes to dog bite injuries. If you were injured after being bitten by someone else’s dog in Florida, you need to know what your rights are and what steps you need to take.
Liability for Dog Bite Injuries
Under Florida’s dog bite statute, a dog owner is liable for injury inflicted by their pet on a person in a public place or lawfully in a private place, regardless of whether the owner knew or should have known that their dog was vicious or was a risk to bite someone. An injured dog bite victim does not need to show any carelessness or inattentiveness on the part of the dog owner.
However, liability for dog bite injuries in Florida may be altered under certain circumstances, including:
- A down owner may have no liability to a dog bite victim if they were trespassing since the dog bite statute requires the victim to have lawfully been in the place where the dog bite occurred.
- The dog bite victim bears partial responsibility, such as when a person harasses or antagonizes a dog that then lashes out and bites. In this case, the dog owner may only be liable for a portion of the injured victim’s expenses and losses.
- The dog bite occurs on the dog owner’s premises and the owner had posted a prominent “Bad Dog” sign. A dog owner will only have liability if their negligence or recklessness was a proximate cause of the attack, or if the victim is under the age of 6.
Steps to Take After You’ve Been Bitten by Somebody Else’s Dog
If you were bitten by someone else’s dog, you should take the following steps to preserve your rights to pursue a claim for compensation:
- If you are able to do so, try to document the scene of the incident, including taking photos of the surrounding area, where the dog escaped from (if applicable), the dog itself, and the injury itself
- Notify the dog’s owner, if you can locate them, and exchange contact information, in addition to getting the owner’s homeowner’s/renter’s insurance policy information, if they have coverage. Also ask the dog’s owner for the dog’s vaccination history
- Get the contact information of any third-party eyewitnesses to the incident
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible to have the dog bite wound examined and cleaned. If you put off seeing a doctor after a dog bite, you may be at risk for a serious secondary infection
- If necessary, report the incident to your local animal control agency
Finally, make time to speak to a dog bite injury attorney as soon as possible after the incident to quickly begin the process of recovering compensation. In many dog bite injury cases, you will obtain compensation from the owner’s insurance company. This makes working with an attorney who has experience dealing with insurers and obtaining maximum compensation in insurance claims especially important.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Dog Bite Case in Florida
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a dog bite in Florida? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Lawlor, White & Murphey represent clients injured because of dog bites in Coconut Creek, Plantation, Pompano Beach, Pembroke Pines, and throughout Florida. Call (954) 525-2345 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 2211 Davie Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312, as well as offices in Pembroke Pines, Weston, Coconut Creek, Plantation, and Pompano Beach.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly