Florida law provides for an owner’s strict liability when their dog bites another person. Strict liability means that it is no defense in a dog bite case for an owner to claim he or she did not know or had no reason to know that his or her dog was potentially dangerous to others.
Florida’s dog owner liability statute provides that owners are liable for damages to bitten victims in public places, private places where the victim is lawfully present and even in some cases on the dog owner’s property. The statute indicates people who are lawfully present include invited persons as well as others, such as postal workers, who are present due to their work duties.
The statute, while providing for damages recovery by dog bite victims, carves out an important exception. People who personally antagonize a dog, causing the dog to attack, may not be able to recover for damages or may end up with their damages reduced by the percentage caused by their own actions. Owners may be able to avoid damages altogether on private property for bites to anyone over the age of six by prominently displaying a sign that contains the words “Bad Dog” on their home’s exterior in order to warn all visitors.
People who have suffered serious injury as a result of a dog bite may be able to recover damages from the animal’s owner. If they choose to file a lawsuit, they may want to meet with a personal injury attorney who has experience in such matters. Personal injury attorneys may be able to provide a fair evaluation of the facts of an individual case and the likelihood of recovery to their clients.
Source: Florida Legislature, “767.04 Dog owner’s liability for damages to persons bitten.“, October 02, 2014