Dogs can be loyal and rewarding pets. When threatened or untrained, however, they can be dangerous. Are owners liable when their dog bites someone else?
Florida’s dog bite laws
Florida is a strict liability dog bite state: if a dog bites you, the owner is responsible for any resulting injuries. Even if the dog has never bitten anyone before, and the owner was careful, they’re on the hook for medical bills and related expenses. Typically, these expenses are covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy, if the owner has one.
This is different from many personal injury claims: the plaintiff doesn’t have to prove that the owner was negligent. The injury itself is enough to hold the owner responsible.
Florida also allows for criminal charges against negligent dog owners, if they knew that the dog was vicious but recklessly ignored that risk.
Defenses to a dog bite claim
If the person bitten was negligent, however, the owner’s liability is reduced by the percentage at which the plaintiff is deemed at fault. Furthermore, owners are not liable, except for dog bites to children under six or if they were negligent, if there are prominent signs on the premises reading “bad dog.”
Owners are also not liable to people bitten while trespassing on their property. If a defendant can show that the plaintiff was not lawfully on their property, they should be able to successfully defend themselves against financial liability.
Dog bites can cause serious harm. If you were bitten by a dog while in public or lawfully on someone else’s property, compensation may be available. Call the experienced Sarasota, FL dog bite lawyers at Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, Murphy & Walsh today.