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By: Morey Law Firm

January 7, 2024

Defending Against Dog Bite Lawsuits in Florida

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Defending Against Dog Bite Lawsuits in Florida

If you find yourself facing a lawsuit because your dog has attacked someone, it’s crucial to understand the legal landscape in Florida surrounding such incidents. This comprehensive guide offers insights and strategies to help you navigate this challenging situation.

Understanding Florida’s Dog Bite Laws

Florida operates under a mixed system of negligence and strict liability concerning dog bites. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Strict Liability: In Florida, the concept of strict liability plays a crucial role in dog bite cases. This principle means that as a dog owner, you are typically held liable if your dog bites someone, irrespective of any previous signs of aggression or your knowledge of such tendencies. This legal stance is based on the premise that owning a pet comes with inherent responsibilities, including ensuring the public’s safety from potential harm caused by your pet. Under strict liability:
    • No Prior Knowledge Required: It doesn’t matter if you had no prior indication of your dog’s propensity to bite. Even if your dog has never shown aggression before, you can still be held liable for the injuries caused by your dog’s bite.
    • Location Matters: Liability applies whether the bite occurs on public property or while the person is lawfully on private property. This includes the dog owner’s property, provided the victim was not trespassing or committing another infraction.
    • Exceptions to Strict Liability: There are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, if the victim provoked the dog or there was a “bod dog” sign on the property, the owner’s liability may be reduced or negated.
  • Negligence:In addition to strict liability, negligence is another crucial aspect that can influence a dog owner’s liability in the event of a bite. Negligence refers to the failure to take reasonable care to prevent harm. In the context of dog bites, this could mean several things. For example, if a dog owner fails to leash their dog in a public place, and the dog subsequently attacks someone, this could be considered negligent behavior. Other examples of negligence might include not securing a dog in a fenced yard, letting a dog roam freely in a neighborhood, or not adhering to local animal control laws. It’s important to understand that negligence doesn’t necessarily require intent; it can often be a matter of oversight or carelessness. However, the implications can be serious, as this negligence can lead to legal responsibility for any injuries caused. As such, dog owners must be vigilant in adhering to all local laws and regulations regarding pet ownership and public safety to mitigate the risk of such incidents.

Steps to Take After a Dog Attack Incident

  1. Seek Legal Counsel: Immediately contact a Florida dog bite defense lawyer. They can guide you through the legal process and help protect your rights.
  2. Gather Evidence: Document everything related to the incident, including witness statements and medical reports.
  3. Report the Incident: Inform local authorities about the incident as required by law.

Defending Your Case: Key Considerations

  • Provocation: If the injured party provoked your dog, this might be a valid defense in your case.
  • Signage: Having a prominently displayed sign that says “bad dog” or something similar may provide a dog owner with an absolute defense to a dog bite lawsuit.
  • Trespassing: If the bite occurred while the victim was trespassing, this could impact the case outcome.
  • Comparative Negligence: In some cases, the victim’s actions may have contributed to the incident, which can influence the liability distribution.

Navigating Insurance Claims

  • Contact your homeowner’s insurance provider immediately to see if you have dog bite liability insurance.
  • Understand your policy’s coverage limits and exclusions.

Essential Tips for Dog Owners

  • Regularly train and socialize your dog to prevent aggressive behavior.
  • Always adhere to local leash laws and regulations.
  • Familiarize yourself with your homeowner’s insurance policy concerning pet incidents.
  • Consider additional liability insurance for added protection.

Morey Law Firm, P.A.: Your Trusted Dog Bite Defense Lawyers

Facing a lawsuit from a dog attack can be overwhelming, bringing emotional and financial challenges. It’s vital to understand your legal rights and responsibilities in Florida, as each case has its unique complexities. Seeking personalized legal advice from a skilled Florida personal injury defense attorney is crucial. They can provide tailored guidance, explore potential defenses, and help navigate the legal proceedings. Proactive legal support is key to managing the situation effectively and securing a favorable outcome. Remember, informed decisions and an experienced dog bite defense attorney are your best allies in these challenging times.

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