When it comes animal-related injuries, it might seem difficult to know where to start, or who is liable for such damage. In the case of dangerous pets, different states have clear-cut rules in defining how to address this issue. If you’ve been victim of a dog bite, speak to a Hollywood dog bite lawyer. Florida possesses its own statutes and laws that indicate what constitutes as a dangerous dog and who is liable in these situations.
What Is a Dangerous Dog?
Under Florida’s Dangerous Dog Statute, an aggressive dog is characterized by:
- Aggressive action toward humans – Aggressive action involves biting, attacking, or inflicting injury. Injury must be severe in nature, causing broken bones, excessive bite marks, or lacerations that require stitches to repair.
- Aggressive action toward animals – Injuring or killing other domesticated animals while not on the owner’s premises.
- Acts without provocation – This could mean chasing or approaching others with the intent to attack while in public spaces.
Florida does not consider a dog dangerous in the following scenarios:
- They are acting in self-defense of a home intruder or other uninvited guest.
- They are the target of active torment or abuse.
- They are defending their owner or other family members/friends an active assault or violence.
- They are protecting any individual within their immediate vicinity from impending assault or violence.
Dog Owner Responsibilities
A dog’s owner has a responsibility to address the dangerous nature of their dog. In Florida, this comes with taking extra precautions in keeping the public safe:
- The owner must confine their dog indoors or outdoors in a structure that effectively secures the animal. This structure must prevent the dog from escaping.
- The owner must muzzle and restrain the dog while in public. A chain or leash controlled by a capable handler can achieve this.
- The owner must post visible warning signs at all points of entry on their premises. These signs must notify adults and children that a dangerous dog lives on the premises.
- The owner must facilitate the application of a tattoo (on the inner thigh) or electronic implantation that indicates their dog’s dangerous status.
- The owner must notify animal control in the following situations: the dog escapes, bites/attacks another person or animal, the owner sells or gives the dog away, the dog does, or the owner moves the dog to another location.
Dog Owner Liability
Dangerous dog owners are responsible for the actions of their animal while in public places and while legally in the presence of other individuals on their premises. The owner is liable for all damages caused by their dog, even if they weren’t aware their dog is dangerous.
The only circumstance in which the owner would not be completely liable is if the victim’s negligence caused the incident. Florida practices comparative negligence, which assigns each party a percentage of fault depending on the details of the incident. This includes ignoring dangerous dog signs and warnings posted on the premises (unless the victim is under six-years-old).
Violating any rules dictated under Florida’s Dangerous Dog Statute results in penalty.
- Up to $500 in fines when violating any aspect of the statute
- Up to $1,000 in fines and up to 1 year in jail time if the dog attacks someone while unprovoked
- Up to $5,000 in fines and up to 5 years of jail time if the dog severely injures or kills someone
Can I Sue for a Dog Bite?
If a dangerous dog attacks and injures you without any sort of provocation, you can sue the dog’s owner. When filing a lawsuit, you can sue for the following damages:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Damages caused by dog attacks can be debilitating and emotionally scarring. If you have suffered injury from a dangerous dog, you can seek compensation for the damages it caused.