A Dog Bit Me. What Are My Options?
If a dog bit you in Florida, it’s a good idea to contact an experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney as soon as possible. Florida is a strict liability state for dog bites, which means that the dog’s owner is liable for the dog bite regardless of whether the owner was actually negligent, and even if the dog has never bitten anyone before.
Elements of a Successful Claim
In order to succeed on a dog bite claim in Florida, you’ll need to show that the dog actually bit you; that the dog bite was the cause of your injury; that your injury resulted in damages; and that you were on public property or legally on private property when the dog bit you.
What if it Wasn’t a Bite?
If a dog lunged at you, causing you to fall, the dog bite statute would not apply as you were not bitten. It would still be a good idea to speak with a personal injury lawyer though, as you may still have a separate personal injury claim. The difference between pursuing a claim through the dog bite statute and a personal injury claim, is that the owner is not required to be negligent for the dog bite statute to apply—the court’s only inquiry is whether a dog bite occurred and whether the victim had a legal right to be on the property. With a personal injury claim, the court must find that the injury would not have occurred but not for the owner’s negligence. If you’re unsure about your claim, schedule a free consultation with a Florida personal injury attorney and have them assess the strengths of your claim and your best course of action moving forward.
It’s important to note that under Florida law, if there is a sign posted on the dog owner’s property that includes the words “Bad dog,” or “beware of dog,” it negates the owner’s liability for bites of individuals 6 years of age or older on that property.
While the dog bite statute is a strict liability statute, there are still circumstances where the victim’s actions in provoking or instigating the dog are responsible for the victim’s injury. For instance, if the victim snuck up and intentionally startled the dog from behind and the dog reacted by biting the victim, the court may find that the victim’s injury would not have occurred but for the victim’s actions, so the dog’s owner will not be held liable. For this reason, it’s always important to take proper precautions when interacting with and around dogs.
Contact a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer
If you’ve been injured or bitten by a dog in Florida, it’s important that you speak with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. There is a statute of limitations on dog bite and personal injury claims, so if you are considering bringing a claim, contact an attorney sooner rather than later. The attorneys at Roman & Roman have over 100 years of combined experience, and have offices in Clearwater, Hudson, and Tampa. Schedule your free consultation today.