Are there Laws in Florida that Protect You from Dog Bites?

Dogs are supposed to be man’s best friend. And, for the most part, they are. Not everyone loves dogs. There are some people who just don’t get along with them. Most people, however, either have a pet or enjoy playing with animals.

Most dogs are very friendly. And if someone owns a dog that isn’t very friendly, they’re usually very careful about warning people that their dog isn’t friendly. In fact, if you’ve ever taken your dog for a walk on one of the beaches near Navarre, Florida, you’ve probably heard the phrase: “Is your dog friendly?”

This is how dog owners communicate with each other about their dog’s nature. Dogs love to check out other dogs. They also love to seek out strangers. It’s their way of protecting their owners. It’s also just part of their curious personality.

If a dog is shy or unfriendly, most people will keep them away from strangers. They make sure they don’t walk their dog without a leash. They may post signs around their house or yard warning people that there is a dog on the premises. They do what they can to warn people that it’s not a good idea to pet or try to play with their animal.

The Florida legislature understands that dogs are indeed animals. There’s no way to ever know for sure how they’ll behave. They’ve put laws into place to protect people that are bit by other people’s dogs. It allows for victims to file for damages if they’re bitten and injured by a dog.

If you or your loved one have suffered a dog bit in Florida, you may need the help of a Navarre personal injury lawyer. They are very familiar with the Florida dog bite statutes. They also know how to get their clients the compensation they deserve.

Most States Follow the “One Bite” Rule

Many states have what is called the “one bite” rule when it comes to dog bites. In these states, a pet owner is basically immune from liability if their dog has never attacked anyone before. The courts don’t want to hold a person liable if they had no idea their dog was going to bite somebody.

In these states, if your dog has bitten someone before, you may he held liable under the statute. If you’re bitten by someone’s dog and can prove it isn’t the first time the dog’s done it, you may be able to recover under the statute.

The nice thing about a dog bite statute is that it doesn’t require you to prove negligence. This means that, no matter how careful the dog owner was, they can be held responsible for your damages.

Florida is a bit different. They don’t operate under the one bite rule. This means that, if you’re bit by your neighbor’s dog in Florida, you don’t have to prove that their dog has bitten someone before. This means it could be easier to collect under the dog bite statute in Florida than in other states.

Dog Owners are Strictly Liable in Florida

Florida law is a bit different when it comes to dog bites. In Florida, dog owners are strictly liable for any injuries caused by their dog. They aren’t given the “one bite” immunity. So, if you’re bit by your friend or neighbor’s dog, you should be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

In order to qualify under the dog bite statute in Florida, you have to meet the following criteria:

  • You were bitten by a dog. Other types of dog attacks don’t fall under the statute. So, if a dog knocks you over and you get injured, you’ll have to sue under normal negligence law. The same is true if a dog injures in any way other than by a bite.
  • You were on private property (legally) or a public place when you were bit. If you’re trespassing, you will not be able to sue under the Florida dog bite statute. The attack has to take place either on private property or in public. If the bite takes place while on private property, you may have to show that you had a right to be on that property.

If you meet these two basic criteria, you should be able to file your claim under the Florida dog bite statute. The dog owner will be liable for your injuries and medical care. Your Navarre personal injury lawyer will help you pursue the dog’s owner.

You will first file a claim against the owner’s homeowner’s insurance if they own a home. If not, you may be able to pursue their landlord. If the landlord knew (or should have known) that the person had a dog, they may be on the hook as well.

If these aren’t viable options, your lawyer will have no choice but to file a personal injury lawsuit on our behalf. You can demand compensation for your injuries and expenses.

What if the Owner Posted Warning Signs?

Under Florida law, the owner may escape liability if they posted adequate warnings about their dog. Some people know that their dogs like to bite people. Maybe their dog bit someone in the past. Or, they may just be a very protective dog who looks out for its owners.

As long as a dog’s owner posts signs that meet the following criteria, they may be immune from liability under the statute:

  • The signs are easily readable
  • Clear and legible
  • Communicate a simple message that the dog is dangerous and on the premises
  • In a prominent place where a reasonable person would notice it

If you file a claim under the Florida dog bite statute, the owner may reply with this defense. They will argue that they had signs up that clearly warned people that there was a dog on the property. If someone chooses to ignore this warning, they may not be eligible to recover under the statute.

What if You Provoke the Dog?

If you provoke or taunt someone’s dog, you may not be able to recover under the statute. The law is designed to help innocent people who are injured by strange dogs. It’s not designed to compensate people who brought the attack on themselves.

For example, if your neighbor has a dog that barks all day, you may be tempted to go over and yell at the dog. If you do this and the dog ends up biting you, odds are, you won’t be covered under the statute.

If you approach a dog so you can pet it and it bites you, your Navarre personal injury lawyer may be able to help you recover under the statute. It will depend on the facts of the case and whether you’re found to be partially at fault.

You Can Still Sue Based on Negligence

Even if you don’t qualify to recover under the dog bite statute, you can still sue for ordinary negligence. If your Navarre injury lawyer can prove that the dog’s owner was negligent, you may be able to receive compensation.

Some examples of when a dog owner may be found negligent include:

  • The dog was not on a leash
  • The dog has attacked people before
  • They have no fence around their yard
  • The fence is inadequate
  • The dog’s owner encourages it to attack people

If this is the case, your lawyer will file a claim for negligence. In order to prove negligence, you must show the following four things:

  • The pet owner owed you a duty of care
  • They breached this duty
  • You were injured
  • Your injuries were caused by their breach

In any of the situations above, it won’t be difficult to show that the defendant was negligent. Clearly, a dog owner has a duty of care toward their friends, neighbors and strangers. If they breach this duty, people get hurt.

The damages you can recover in this type of case are the same as any other Florida personal injury case. You can demand the following:

  • Medical bills and expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent disability or facial disfigurement

If you’ve been attacked by a dog in your neighborhood, call and talk to an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer in Navarre, Florida

If you or your child have been injured by a dog bite, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in Navarre, Florida. They can review your case and see if you qualify under the Florida Dog Bite statute.

Your lawyer can also let you know what your case may be worth. They’re there to answer any questions you may have. Call today and schedule your initial consultation. It's absolutely free and you pay nothing until you settle your case.

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