Dog Bites: Know the Florida Law

Florida has specific laws that hold dog owners accountable for dog attacks. If you’ve been bitten by a dog in Florida, the statute of limitations (the legal deadline) for filing a lawsuit is four years from the date of the incident. In rare circumstances, that may be extended, so it’s important to check with an experienced personal injury attorney to see if you qualify for that extension.

 Florida Statutes Pertaining to Dog Bites

In a nutshell, Florida law holds dog owners liable for injuries caused by their dog biting someone in a public place or if the person is lawfully in a private place, such as the dog owner’s property. It doesn’t matter if the dog never bit anyone before or if the owner never suspected the dog was dangerous. If “Bad Dog” signs were posted, or if the person bitten was trespassing or in some way provoked the attack, the victim’s ability to receive compensation may be reduced, but he or she may still get some compensation. 

Specifically, the Florida Statutes Title XLV (Torts) states in part:

  • “Owners of dogs shall be liable for any damage done by their dogs to a person or to any animal included in the definitions of ‘domestic animal’ and ‘livestock’ as provided by s. 585.01.” (767.01)
  • “The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness. However, any negligence on the part of the person bitten that is a proximate cause of the biting incident reduces the liability of the owner of the dog by the percentage that the bitten person’s negligence contributed to the biting incident.”  (767.04)
  • Even if there was a Bad Dog sign prominently displayed, if it can be shown that the attack and damages were “caused by a negligent act or omission of the owner,” or if the person bitten is under 6 years of age, the dog owner can still be held liable. (767.04) 

Compensation You May Receive

As with other personal injury cases, the victim of a dog bite can seek compensation for expenses resulting from the injury such as medical expenses and lost wages as well as compensation for pain and suffering. 

If a dog has caused damage other than a bite, for instance, jumping and knocking you down, you can seek compensation as well, though not under the dog bite statutes. A lawsuit can be built on the argument of the property owner’s negligence, as in the case of safety hazards, slip and falls, and other such cases. If you sustained injuries from a bite and from falling down, such as hitting your head and receiving a concussion along with the bite, it may be possible to file under multiple statutes. 

As a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer committed to helping people who have been injured due to the negligence of others, I hunt for every possible opportunity to help you receive the compensation you need. Call me today at (954)448-7288 so I can get started right away to help you.

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