Dog Bite Lawyers
According to the Humane Society, there and estimated 4.7 million dog bites
each year, with nearly 800,000 of those bites requiring medical care.
Last year in Florida, there we 32 fatalities from dog bites.
If you have been bitten by a dog, you should seek medical attention and
talk to your physician about the warning signs of rabies. If you know
the owner, you should obtain a copy of the dog's vaccination records.
If you don't know the owner, then you should contact animal control
about recovering the dog and testing the animal for rabies.
While the laws regarding dog bites vary from state to state, in Florida
is a strict liability state. The owner is responsible for any injuries
caused by the bite, unless the person bitten was comparatively negligent,
in which case damages are reduced accordingly. In determining comparative
negligence, many factors are considered including the dog's previous
behavior, the use of warning signs, like a Beware of Dog sign, the location
of the attack, whether the dog was on a leash and whether the dog was provoked.
Florida Statute 767.04 covers dog bites and reads as follows:
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.
Florida makes an exception for children under the age of six. They are
deemed too young to be comparatively negligent. Whether a child under
six provoked the dog, cannot be used as a defense. If the child is older
than 6, whether the child aggravated the dog and caused the attack, is
a question for the jury to determine. In addition, a parent's failure
to supervise the child can serve to reduce the child's recovery.
The strict liability of section 767.04 is waived if a child is over the
age of 6, is bitten on the owner's property and the owner has prominently
displayed a Bad Dog, or Beware of Dog sign. If bitten under such circumstances,
recovery would be difficult.
In Florida, if a dog is known to have bitten previously or has a reputation
for wanting to bite, a person in control of the dog, other than an owner,
can be held liable for injuries inflicted by the dog. So for instance,
if you advise a kennel owner or dog groomer that the dog is known to bite
and the dog bites someone while in their custody, the custodian may be
held liable for damages.
Likewise, a landlord has a duty to protect its tenants in connection with
a vicious dog of which the landlord has knowledge. This rule only applies
to injuries which occur on the landlord's premises, or an amenity
of those premises, like a community park or pool.
If you or your child has been bitten by a dog and suffered damage, such
as lost wages, medical bills, emotional trauma or physical scarring, you
may be entitled to a recovery. Most dog bite claims are covered by homeowners
or premises liability insurance and are not paid by the dog owners directly.
Take all reasonable steps to photograph your injuries and the location
where the incident where took place. Gather the names of any witness and
contact an attorney with experience handling dog bites.
Call the law office of Harris & Riviere in Tampa at (813) 229-2667
to speak with an attorney, send us an
email, or complete one of our free
case evaluation forms. Serving all of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Manatee and Sarasota counties.