What a Dog Owner is Liable for After a Dog Attack
When it comes to dog bites, Florida is what is known as a strict liability state. This means a dog owner can be held liable for a dog bite even if he/she was not aware of the aggressive nature of the dog or any previous dog offenses.
If you were bitten by a dog, to make a case, you must prove that you were bit on lawfully private property or in a public space or show that the owner of the dog acted in a negligent manner, causing an injury. To better explain the process of pressing charges after being bitten by a dog, we have compiled the following list of steps for you to follow below.
Record the Event
First, it is important to document the event, including taking photographs of any wounds, torn clothing, bite marks, blood, scratches, and/or injuries. Record your recollections of the incident and write down any details such as the owner’s personal information, the breed of dog, the owner’s insurance company, and any other information related to the dog’s behavioral history and shot record. You will need evidence to support your personal injury claim, so take as many pictures as you can and collect as much information as possible.
Report the Incident to Local Animal Control Authorities
You will want to report the dog bite incident to local animal control authorities. If you called 911 after the incident, the officer(s) who showed up most likely filed a report, which you can use later to help build your personal injury case.
Once you file a police report, an animal welfare officer will contact you about Florida’s ten-day rabies quarantine, which is mandated by the Florida Department of Health.
Determine Which Common Law Claim Aligns with Your Situation
A dog bite victim can recover compensation for injuries under these common law claims:
An owner could be found negligent if they failed to provide or offer a certain level of care to the victim.
- Negligence per se
An owner may be held liable for their dog’s actions if it is proven that they violated any statues or regulations put in place to keep a public space safe for visitors.
- Scienter (also known as the one bite rule)
If an owner had any prior knowledge of a dog’s bad behavior, meaning a history of attacks or attempts, they could be held liable for the injuries sustained.
- Intentional tort
In cases where intent can be proven, you could claim battery if the owner played a part in intentionally getting the dog to bite you.
Understand the Dangerous Dog Statue
In certain situations, an overly aggressive dog may be considered dangerous under Florida law. If this is the case, the dog’s owner should be careful to take strict precautions to protect others from the dog. These include but are not limited to registering the dog with local authorities, keeping the dog in a secure location marked with dangerous dog signs to alert other, and restraining the dog with a muzzle if it is taken off the owner’s property. The owner could be held criminally responsible for any injuries a dangerous dog inflicts on another person. Under the dangerous dog statue, a dangerous dog is defined as:
- A dog that aggressively attacked, bit, or severely injured an individual. Any attempt to do so is also considered dangerous behavior.
- A dog that seriously injured or killed another animal more than one time.
- A dog that ran after or aggressively approached a person without being provoked.
Understand the Dog Owner’s Liability
An owner’s liability may change under certain circumstances and the damages could be reduced. These circumstances include but may not be limited to:
- If the victim was trespassing on private property.
- If the victim provoked the dog.
- If the dog was defending its owner or another individual from a perceived threat.
- If the owner of a dangerous dog had warning signs in place.
Consult with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
The laws that outline dog bite claims can be complicated. Additionally, when you consider the steps you must take to alert the dog owner’s insurance company of the incident, you could easily find yourself in way over your head. It is advisable to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer about your case to ensure you are well prepared to press charges.
Our team of lawyers are committed to protecting our clients’ interests and safeguarding their rights. If you were a victim of a recent dog attack, we will work tirelessly to help you reach the settlement you deserve. In the event you need an aggressive litigator in court, consider us your fierce advocates. We strive for results and will do our best to help you reach a fair resolution.
Reach out to our firm online or call us at (352) 310-8169 to arrange an initial consultation with a skilled member of our team.