If you live in Florida and have suffered a dog bite injury, you may seek compensation for your damages under negligence and strict liability theories.
In Florida, negligence is generally defined as the lack of care a reasonably prudent person would use under the circumstances. For example, it would be imprudent and therefore negligent to allow your pit-bull to stroll freely into a nursery school. To prove negligence, you must show that an owner had a legal duty to be careful and violated this duty by certain actions or inactions which caused your injury. An owner has a duty of care to adequately restrain his or her dog from hurting neighbors. If a large dog in an inadequate enclosure jumps the enclosure and bites you, you may have a valid negligence claim.
One variation of negligence is negligence per se, in which the dog bit you because the dog owner violated a state statute or local ordinance designed to guard the community. For instance, the owner broke a leash law prohibiting dogs from being off-leash when the dog bit you. Or a dog bit you in your backyard, in violation of a local ordinance against trespassing. While violation of the statute is proof of negligence, you are still required to satisfy all the elements of negligence.
The Florida dog bite statute imposes strict liability on the dog owner if the bite occurred in a public or private place where the victim had a right to be. To recover, a victim does not need to prove that the owner was negligent. This differs from a law which does not fault the dog owner unless the dog has previously injured someone. Some exceptions to strict liability concern victims who trespassed, provoked the dog or committed a felony — like a burglar.
Homeowner’s or dog-owner’s insurance often covers damages when dogs attack. In the event of inadequate insurance, a defendant may pay out of pocket for:
- Medical care
- Loss of earnings
- Counseling for disfigurement
For more than 35 years we have helped injury victims receive just compensation. Please contact the Law Offices of Cohn & Smith, PA for a free consultation.