Types of Dog Bite Claims & Limitations
In Florida, if a dog bites you, the dog’s owner may be held liable. This is true even if the dog bit you on the owner’s property. Dog bites can range in severity, and can result in nothing more than a small wound, or end up requiring extensive medical care and possibly surgery to fix. Florida dog bite law can be complex and convoluted, but that does not mean that you should not try to pursue damages. If you were bit by a dog in Florida, reach out to the West Palm Beach dog bite lawyers at The Pendas Law Firm regarding your legal rights to compensation and recovery.
Florida Dog Bite Theories
Under Florida law, you are able to sue a dog owner under one of the following four legal theories:
- Negligence: Negligence is the most common theory that dog bite victims typically sue under. Under a cause of action of negligence, you may be able to recover damages if the owner failed to exercise a normal level of care that any other reasonable individual would have employed.
- Negligence Per Se: If the dog owner violated another law or regulation that was put in place to ensure the safety of others, and if that violation let to your being bit, you may be able to sue under negligence per se. For instance, if you were bit in a public place, and if that public place had a sign that explicitly stated “no dogs allowed,” the dog owner can be sued simply for violating the public space’s rules.
- Scienter: “Scienter” is more commonly known as the “one bite rule.” Under this rule, a victim is entitled to recovery when the dog has a history of biting or attempts or intent to bite. Under scienter, individuals other than the dog’s owner may be held responsible for damages if they were aware of the dog’s violent history.
- Intentional Tort: If the owner of the dog purposefully allowed their dog to bite you, or if they fully intended for their dog to attack you, you may pursue a claim under an intentional tort action.
The owner of a violent dog may be subject to both civil and criminal charges if their dog is a routine problem. A victim can file a civil claim to recover damages for their losses, but also, as in the instance of negligence per se or scienter, the owner may be face criminal charges as well. This is especially true if the bite is severe, or if the owner had previous knowledge of the dog’s aggressive history.
Limitations to Dog Bite Laws
While the victim of a dog bite is not required to prove that the defendant dog owner was at fault, the defendant is afforded the opportunity to raise mitigating factors. Two of the most common factors that may negatively affect the outcome of a dog bite claim include:
- Comparative Negligence: Comparative negligence is oftentimes used by dog owners to show that the victim played some role in the attack. For instance, a victim may be assigned a percentage of fault if he or she attempted to enter a property on which “No Trespassing” and “Beware of Dog” signs were posted, and without the owner’s knowledge. A person may be assigned the majority of fault, and therefore not be eligible for recovery, if he or she provoked the dog to attack. A parent may also be assigned fault if a child was bit due to lack of supervision. If assigned a portion of the fault, your damages will be reduced by the percent of fault attributed to you.
- Bad Dog Exception: If a property owner posts easily readable “Beware of Dog” and “Bad Dog” signs on their property, and you entered the property despite those signs and are bit on said property, you may not be entitled to compensation. However, it is still worth filing a claim, as circumstantial evidence may back your claim that you were wrongly bitten and that the dog owner is at fault.
Consult a West Palm Beach Dog Bite Lawyer
At The Pendas Law Firm, our dog bite lawyers understand how scary a dog attack can be, and the type of physical and emotional damage that a dog bite can have on a victim. If you were bit by a dog in Florida, it might be worth your time to pursue a legal claim. For an accurate assessment of the legitimacy of your claim, and for a professional opinion of what your claim might be worth, reach out to our West Palm Beach dog bite lawyers at 888-LPENDAS, or contact us online.
The Pendas Law Firm also serves clients in the Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Fort Myers, Miami, Daytona, Bradenton, and Jacksonville areas.