Imagine a peaceful day in Florida interrupted by an unexpected and painful encounter with a dog. Who is responsible? What legal actions can you take? In this post, we will explain strict liability, exceptions, the ‘one bite’ rule, and negligence in these cases. Have questions? Contact us here!
Overview of Florida’s Dog Bite Laws
Florida follows a strict liability approach to dog bites. Florida dog owners are always liable for injuries their pets cause, regardless of the dog’s history or aggression. Even a friendly Labrador Retriever can make its owner responsible if it bites someone, despite their usually gentle nature.
Strict Liability in Florida
Responsibility of Dog Owners
In Florida, there are laws that require dangerous dogs to either wear a muzzle or be on a leash. These rules apply when the dogs are not in a secure area. If the dog injures someone, the owner may be held responsible for the injuries. This is true even if the dog is typically well-behaved.
Leash Laws in Florida
Dangerous dogs must wear a muzzle or be on a leash when outside their enclosure, according to leash laws. These laws are in place to protect not just the public but the dog itself.
Exceptions to Strict Liability
There are certain exceptions to strict liability in Florida. The owner might not be fully responsible for what happened if the person was trespassing or provoked the dog. Additionally, if the owner had a sign saying “Bad Dog”, they might also not be fully responsible.
“One Bite” Rule in Florida
Florida recognizes the “one bite” rule. This means, if a dog has bitten or acted aggressively before, the owner can be held responsible for future bites. This rule makes sure dog owners know if their pet is aggressive and take steps to stop future incidents.
Negligence in Dog Bite Cases
Difference Between Strict Liability and Negligence
Strict liability holds the dog owner responsible for injuries, regardless of fault or negligence. Negligence means proving the owner didn’t take reasonable care to prevent the dog bite. If a dog owner does not close their gate and their dog bites someone, it may be considered negligence. This is because the owner did not properly secure their pet.
Comparative Negligence Rule in Florida
Florida’s comparative negligence rule can also come into play in dog bite cases. If the victim contributed to the incident, their compensation could be reduced based on their contribution. For instance, if a person ignored a “Bad Dog” sign and was then bitten, they may be considered partially at fault for the incident.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Dog Bite Claim
In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a dog bite lawsuit is four years from the date of the incident. This means that a victim has four years from the date of the dog bite to file a legal claim. Taking timely action and consulting with Colina Law is crucial to ensure compliance with this deadline.
Steps to Take After a Dog Bite Incident
A dog bite incident can be a traumatic and painful experience. Knowing the appropriate steps to take following such an event can significantly impact your health and potential legal proceedings.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
If you have been bitten by a dog, the first step is to seek immediate medical attention. Your health should be your primary concern.
Even if the bite appears minor, it is crucial to seek immediate medical assistance. This is to prevent infections and to check for any hidden injuries. Dog bites can cause serious physical harm, including deep wounds, infection, and even permanent scarring. Prompt medical treatment is essential to prevent complications and ensure proper healing.
Gathering Information About the Dog and Owner
Next, gather info on the dog and owner, like names, contact info, and any past aggression. This information will be important when filing a dog bite claim and seeking compensation for your injuries. This data will prove critical if you decide to pursue a legal claim.
Reporting the Incident to Local Authorities
Reporting the incident to local animal control or law enforcement agencies is also important. They will look into the incident, record the information, and act to stop similar incidents with the dog.
Documenting and Preserving Evidence
In addition, it is crucial to document and preserve evidence of the incident. Take photographs of your injuries, keeping in mind to capture any visible wounds, bruises, or scars. Also taking photos of the location where the incident occurred is also a good idea. These photographs can serve as evidence of the severity of your injuries and support your claim for compensation.
Why Hiring a Dog Bite Attorney is Crucial
Navigating the legal landscape after a dog bite can be complicated and stressful. A dog bite lawyer can help you protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve. They have extensive knowledge in this area and can provide comprehensive support throughout the process.
If you’re a dog bite victim, you could receive compensation for different things. This includes payment for medical bills, lost earnings, pain and distress, scars, property damage, and sometimes even extra penalties. Medical costs pay for your treatment and care for physical and emotional harm caused by the incident. These costs are applicable in both the short term and long term.
Don’t navigate this challenging time alone. Contact Colina Law today for expert assistance with your dog bite lawsuit. Our experienced team is ready to fight for your rights and help you secure the compensation you need to heal and move forward.