Is the Owner Always At Fault? Understanding Florida Dog Owners Liability

May 7, 2018

In the State of Florida, if a dog bites a person, the owner is strictly liable for any damages caused by the bite. This means that the bitten person does not need to prove the owner was negligent. This is the essence of strict liability. The act itself establishes liability.
Florida Statute § 767.04 states:

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.

Related - Dog Bites and Products Liability: Strict Liability Laws in Florida

Florida Dog Owners Liability... Always An Exception Or Two

Despite the general rule, the legislature has continued to apply comparative negligenceTaken into account is any negligence on the part of the victim that can reduce potential recovery. The percentage of fault placed on the victim is ultimately decided by a jury. For example, imagine the victim provoked or taunted the dog. A jury may find that he was therefore equally responsible for the attack as the dog owner. They would consequently find 50% comparative negligence on his part, and allow him to recover only 50% percent of his damages.

Another exception totally exculpates the dog owner. A property featuring a sign with the words “bad dog” relieves liability from the property owner. This includes those who are lawfully on the property. Excluded are children under the age of six.

Related - Adding up the Damages: What Your Personal Injury Claim is Worth

The Bottom Line

There are many nuanced rules that come into play when dealing with dog bites. If you are the victim of a dog bite, you should seek medical help and contact an attorney. The Ticktin Law Group offers free consultations to victims of dog bites. We also handle Personal Injury cases on a contingency basis. This means you don't pay anything unless we recover money for your injuries. Call (561) 232-2222 or complete the contact form here to schedule your free consultation today.

Related - Understanding Deadlines for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Florida