Did you know that 600 Floridians are hospitalized from dog bite injuries and 2 Floridians die as a result from those injuries each year? In 2012, insurance companies paid more than $7 million in dog bite claims. With Florida having some of the strictest liability dog bite laws in all of America, it is crucial for you to familiarize yourself with Florida's stature and laws if you are thinking of adopting or owning a dog. Speak with a veterinarian and the dog breeder before getting a dog, and also speak with a personal injury attorney if aggression may be a concern.
Florida's Stature Pertaining to Liability
Under FLSA 767.04, as a dog owner, you are liable for injuries if the following two conditions are met:
- your dog bites someone. This stature only pertains to dog bites. This means that any other injuries that may have been caused by your dog, but is not from a bite, will not be covered under this stature.
- the injured person was bitten in a pubic place or when he or she was lawfully on or in a private place. This means that the person is on your property upon invitation whether it be expressed or implied.
If your dog has caused an injury not from a bite, then the injured individual is responsible for proving that the owner's negligence or failure to use reasonable care resulted in the injury. Since the conditions and laws pertaining to these injuries are different, the personal injury attorney will have to approach it in a different manner.
Understanding the Significance Behind Strict Liability Bite Laws
All states function under only one of two different laws: "one-bite" laws or strict liability bite laws. States with one-bite laws will not hold the owner responsible if the dog that attacked did not show any signs of aggression prior to the attack. Florida, however, operates under strict liability bite laws, which means that dog owners are held liable regardless of whether they could have done anything to prevent the event.
In short, even if your dog has never showed any signs of aggression and even if your dog had perceived that you were in danger and was just protecting you, you will still be held liable for the injuries caused by the dog bites. As a result, you only have two defences when facing a dog bite personal injury case: trespassing and comparative negligence.
If the injured individual were trespassing on your property when the attack happened, then he or she would not have been lawfully on or in a private place. In this situation, your personal injury attorney may argue that the injured individual is responsible and therefore not entitled to collect any compensation.
The more common defense, however, is based on the comparative negligence defense. Although the dog owner is still held liable, the amount of compensation that you will be required to pay out will be reduced if you and your personal injury attorney from a firm like Schiller, Kessler & Gomez, PLC can prove that the dog attack was induced partly due to the negligence and actions of the injured individual.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney for the Best Representative
Due to Florida's strict liability bite laws, you want to make sure that you and your dog are both properly represented in the event that you are served a dog bite personal injury case. Depending on the severity of the attack and whether there have been previous attacks, you may not only have to pay a significant amount of compensation, but the judge may conclude that your dog may need to either attend training classes or be put down.