Although considered man’s best friend, not all dogs have friendly demeanors.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year. Those bites not only come with physical scars but also lead to unexpected medical bills, emotional damage and questions on what to do next.
1. Do dog owners hold liability for a dog bite?
Considered a strict liability state, Florida holds dog owners liable for damages and injuries if their dogs bite a person in a public location or lawfully permitted private property. The owner may also have liability if a person trips or gets pushed by the dog. The victim has the right to file a lawsuit to seek monetary compensation for medical bills, lost wages, emotional stress, scarring and permanent disabilities.
2. Does the law allow for liable exemptions?
Like with many things, dog bite laws have exceptions that may reduce or eliminate liability. If a person unlawfully enters a property or provokes the dog, the victim may lose the right to sue. Additionally, a dog protecting its owner or other person may provide justification for the attack. While not always cut and dry, an owner who has signs up warning about the dog may have grounds for not having liability.
3. How soon do I have to file a claim?
Although the state allows four years from the incident date to file a claim, the process itself takes more time than one might think. Filling as soon after the attack helps ensure plenty of time to obtain evidence and confirm liability.
The effects of a dog bit may have long-lasting effects, especially for children, which makes it important to seek medical and legal help quickly.