Florida Dog Bite Statute
Most people love “Man’s Best Friend”. Our faithful four-legged friends who show us unconditional love and affection can become true companions. But no matter the size or past behavior of their dog, dog owners need to know the duty imposed on them by Florida Law. Conversely, plaintiffs injured by dog bites need to know their best avenue to recovery and compensation.
When it comes to dog bites, Florida applies statutory strict liability through their Florida Dog Bite Statute Fl. Stat. § 767.04. When strict liability applies, an owner is strictly liable for all injuries or property damages caused by his dog Fl. Stat. § 767.01-07. Fortunately, the plaintiff needs not to allege negligence on the part of the defendant, only the harm caused by the dog and the defendant’s ownership and control over the dog. The burden then shifts to the defendant to raise any applicable defenses.
Furthermore, standard negligence elements can apply to a dog owner when he failed to do something a reasonable dog owner would have done that was the proximate result of the dog bite victim’s injuries. However, when a plaintiff seeks to impose liability on someone other than the owner of the dog, only standard negligence elements apply. [see Belcher Yacht, Inc. v. Stickney, 450 So. 2d 1111 (The court held that § 767.04 applied only to the dog owner, and strict liability not applicable to non-owner of dog.)] The essential elements for dog bite injuries that occur while the dog is in the care of someone other than the owner are as follows:
- Whether the defendant kept the dog on his or her premises;
- Whether the defendant was aware of the dog’s dangerous propensity; and
- Whether the keeper of the dog took reasonable care to guard against such injury.
Additionally, a non-owner keeper of a dog has a duty to determine:
- The nature of the species of dog;
- The nature of the individual dog;
- Any unusual characteristics that the dog displays.
An intentional tort action can also be brought against a dog owner that provokes or incites his dog to attack another person.
When a plaintiff is bitten by a dog, a lawsuit must be filed within four years of the date the plaintiff was bitten. If a plaintiff doesn’t file his or her lawsuit within this time period they are barred from seeking any recovery from injuries stemming from the dog bite.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite please call our Florida office at (727) 998-4010 or send us a message.