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Dog Bite Lawyers in Florida

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Dog bites cause people injuries at an alarming rate. The injury that can result from a dog bite is potentially life threatening. Every State handles personal injuries caused by dog bites a bit differently – and Florida is no exception. Let’s take a look at some of the unique aspects of Florida’s Dog Bite Law in this article from the Personal Injury Lawyers at Sawan & Sawan. 

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Dog Bite Injuries in Florida

The owners of dogs that bite others and injure them can be held liable for those injuries under Florida law. Dog bite cases in Florida, however, are very complicated and involve an intricate mixture of State law and judicial precedent. For some cases, the limited time frames involved for which you can file a lawsuit often referred to as the statute of limitations needs to be analyzed. Due to these types of important aspects of your case, we strongly advise you to speak to a personal injury lawyer in Florida to review your case if you have been injured by a dog. Making sure you were being paid adequate compensation for your injuries and that the legal requirements for your case are met is a complex process. 

In general, Florida is a strict liability State. Strict liability essentially deals with the legal question of whether the mindset or knowledge of the dog’s owner impacts legal liability. As with most areas of law, there are layers of complexity to a dog bite case. Different states require different elements to be met in dog bite injury lawsuits. Some states require that the owner be previously aware of the aggressive nature of the animal while other states follow a strict liability approach. Florida has a complicated framework for what you have to prove in your dog bite case and that’s why it’s important to have a dog bite personal injury lawyer represent you. Not every case is treated the same and there are some exceptions that deal with comparative negligence, failures to use reasonable care, and prior knowledge of the aggressive nature of the dog involved. So if you’ve been bitten by a dog in Florida, call Sawan & Sawan today at 419-900-0955. For a more general on Florida dog-bite laws, keep reading. 

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Florida Dog Bite Injury Statute

From a legal standpoint, for someone who has been the victim of a dog bite in the State of Florida, the legal claims that result from the bite involve Florida’s dog bite statute. The statute states that:

"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. A person is lawfully upon private property of such owner within the meaning of this act when the person is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him or her by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when the person is on such property upon invitation, expressed or implied, of the owner. However, the owner is not liable, except as to a person under the age of 6, or unless the damages are proximately caused by a negligent act or omission of the owner, if at the time of any such injury the owner had displayed in a prominent place on his or her premises a sign easily readable including the words “Bad Dog.” The remedy provided by this section is in addition to and cumulative with any other remedy provided by statute or common law."

To begin, it’s important to remember that this statute only governs dog bites – not other types of injuries caused by dogs. However, Florida law may provided people injured by other types of dog related injuries. For example, if an owner negligently fails to restrain a dog and it’s leash trips you, causing injury, Florida Law may permit you to proceed with a personal injury suit based on general negligence. When it comes to dog bites – Florida is a “strict liability” state. This means that a Florida Dog owner may be held liable for a dog bite even without any prior knowledge that the dog might be dangerous. As the statute makes exceedingly clear, an owner of a dog in Florida “is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.” 

Florida Dog Bite Injury Statute of Limitation

Every State has laws governing how long an injured victim has to bring a lawsuit for a personal injury. The statute of limitation, in general, begins on the day of the injury. In Florida, personal injury claims are governed by Florida Statutes Section 95.11 – which gives an injured victim four years from the date on an injury in which to bring a personal injury complaint in Court. If you fail to bring a lawsuit within this timeframe, there is a high probability that the Court will dismiss the case – even if you would have otherwise won. Because the Statute of Limitation for Dog Bites in Florida is so strict, it’s important that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible after suffering a dog bite injury.

Florida Dog Bite Lawyer, Personal Injury Lawyers | Sawan and Sawan

Defenses to a Florida Dog Bite Lawsuit

Even though Florida Law holds an owner strictly liable for a dog bite – there are some legal defenses that can be raised. In Florida, there are three main defenses to dog bite liability:

1) The person that was bitten was trespassing; or
2) The person that was bitten was “comparatively negligent”; or
3) There is a “Bad Dog” sign posted

Under the Florida Dog Bite statute, in order for a claimant to recover, they must have been “lawfully” on the property where the dog bite occurred. By definition, a person that is trespassing is not “lawfully” on private premises. Thus, many times, Florida Dog Bite cases will involve arguments about the status of the person at the time in which they were bitten.

Comparative Negligence in Florida Dog Bite Cases

The second common defense is comparative negligence. This means that the amount of compensation is lowered by the amount of fault ascribed to the individual that suffered a dog bite. In some cases, a dog bite victim will be found to have instigated or antagonized a dog – in which case the law will permit the jury or judge to assess a percentage of responsibility for that behavior and reduce an award by that amount.

Can I Recover For a Dog Bite Injury if There Was a "Beware of Dog" Sign?

A unique part of Florida Law is the “Bad Dog” sign defense. In essence, if the owner has a “Bad Dog” sign prominently displayed on the property with easily legible text, than they can potentially escape responsibility in some circumstances. However, it’s important to understand that this is not an absolute defense. For example, the owner may not be protected by this defense if the dog bite victim was under the age of six or if the owner was negligent in connection with the dog bite. Under Florida dog bite law, however, there is a general exception that provides for a defense to dog owners in some cases. There will possibly be a defense to liability under Florida’s dog bite statute if:

  1. The victim of the dog bite is 6 years or older.
  2. The incident itself happened on the dog owner’s property;
  3. On that property, there was a “conspicuously posted” sign warning those on the property of the dog.

A variety of Florida cases provide more context on the “Beware of Dog” sign exception in Florida dog bite law.

Florida Dog Bite Lawyer, , Personal Injury Lawyers | Sawan and Sawan

Dennis E. Sawan

Managing Partner

Licensed in Ohio and Florida

Florida Dog Bite Lawyer, , Personal Injury Lawyers | Sawan and Sawan

Dennis P. Sawan

Senior Partner

Licensed in Ohio and Georgia

Florida Dog Bite Lawyer, , Personal Injury Lawyers | Sawan and Sawan

Christopher A. Sawan

Partner

Licensed in Ohio and Michigan

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At Sawan & Sawan, we offer free initial consultations. We represent clients in Ohio, Georgia, Michigan and Florida. From our family to yours.

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