Florida Dog Bite and Animal Attack Laws

An Overview of Florida Dog Bite and Animal Attack Laws

Although dogs are certainly man’s best friend, accidents and attacks in Florida are common.   Dog bites and attacks can cause significant injury and dangerous infection if not handled properly.  In cases of this type, we often find that the owners of the animals failed to properly protect others from their pets.  If you have been injured by a Dog attack in Florida or if your dog has hurt someone, our office is here to help.   

Who is Entitled to Bring an Action in Civil Court After a Dog Attack?

Florida Stat. 767.04 provides a statutory remedy to anyone injured by a dog bite. Further, Florida Stat. 767.01 states that “owners of dogs shall be liable for any damage done by their dogs to a person or to any animal included in the definition of “domestic animal” and “livestock.”   Additionally, the owner of the dog is “strictly liable” for the injuries the animal causes.  That means, liable regardless of fault (no need to prove negligence or intent).  Typically, the injured party must establish that he was in a public place or lawfully in a private place at the time of injury and that the Defendant was indeed the owner of the animal.

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Defending a Florida Dog Bite Case: 

There are several specific defenses to dog bite liability enumerated within the statute: 

Negligence on the person bitten that is a proximate cause of the injury. For example, if a person kicks teases or provokes an animal, the owner of the animal may be able to have his or her liability offset by the injured person’s negligence. 

Bad Dog Signs: The Notice Defense: If at the time of the injury the owner had a sign displayed, in a prominent place that was easily readable, “bad dog” (note that this Defense doesn’t apply to children under the age of six who become injured.) 

Some Relevant Florida Statutes: 

 Fla. Stat. 767.04:

The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness. However, any negligence on the part of the person bitten that is a proximate cause of the biting incident reduces the liability of the owner of the dog by the percentage that the bitten person’s negligence contributed to the biting incident. A person is lawfully upon private property of such owner within the meaning of this act when the person is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him or her by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when the person is on such property upon invitation, expressed or implied, of the owner. However, the owner is not liable, except as to a person under the age of 6, or unless the damages are proximately caused by a negligent act or omission of the owner, if at the time of any such injury the owner had displayed in a prominent place on his or her premises a sign easily readable including the words “Bad Dog.” The remedy provided by this section is in addition to and cumulative with any other remedy provided by statute or common law.

Fla. Stat. 767.01: 

 Dog owner’s liability for damages to persons, domestic animals, or livestock

Owners of dogs shall be liable for any damage done by their dogs to a person or to any animal included in the definitions of “domestic animal” and “livestock” as provided by section 585.01