Florida liability laws for dog bite injuries

Florida is among the many states that have enacted dog bite laws. These laws are intended to encourage owners to control their animals by making them directly liable for any injury the animal inflicts upon another person. In Florida, the law states a dog or other animal owner is responsible for any medical treatment required by another party because of the animal’s actions, whether the party was injured on the animal owner’s private property or elsewhere.

The dog bite law prescribes liability of owner as its primary tenet. This means the dog owner is obligated to properly train, control and restrain the animal as necessary to prevent injury to others at all times. Florida’s dog-bite law is applied equally to other animals, such as horses, pigs, goats, cats and more exotic and wild animals such as ostriches and snakes.

While Florida law maintains the animal owner is liable to provide compensation to the bitten or attacked party, there are limiting factors. If a “Beware of Dog” or similar sign is placed conspicuously on the property, this may reduce or eliminate the owner’s obligations under the law. Similarly, if the owner can demonstrate the injury was caused by negligence or intentional provocation by the injured party, the damages the injured party can claim may be reduced by a certain percentage.

In the event of serious injury stemming from an animal attack, the type of animal is irrelevant under the strict liability doctrine. It is generally easier for a bite victim to claim compensation than for the owner to demonstrate compensation is not appropriate or is appropriate at a reduced percentage under Florida law. The specifics of the case and the circumstances under which the injury occurred may significantly impact the available injury compensation.

Source: Findlaw, “Does the Type of Animal Affect a Bite Injury Case?“, December 26, 2014