Who’s responsible for a dog biting someone in Florida?

Florida is a beautiful place to live with warm months nearly year round and plenty of active residents. With warm weather and a busy population comes the risk of pets on the loose. Most of the time, pets that escape off a lead will find their way home and won’t cause any problems. Other times, though, a dog may become overwhelmed and attack those who it comes into contact with.

When you’re attacked by a dog, who’s to blame? According to the law, any owner of any dog that bites someone is liable for the damages. This is the case even if the dog has never had any signs of being vicious in the past. In the case that the dog has been declared dangerous in the past, then the owner can be charged and proven guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree. The dog in question then needs to be impounded for 10 days, and at that point, the owner can request to have a hearing about the case.

Of course, dogs don’t always bite out of aggression. Sometimes, a person’s negligence leads to the animal attacking. In those cases, the owner’s liability drops to the percent of responsibility for the incident that’s acceptable by the court.

For example, if the dog was cornered and showing signs of distress or fear, then most people would back away and allow it to calm down. If a person tried to pick it up suddenly or poked it with something, that could be negligence on his or her part, even though the owner may still be held partially responsible for the incident.

Source: Michigan State University, “West’s Florida Statutes Annotated. Title XLV. Torts. Chapter 767. Damage by Dogs. Title XL. Real and Personal Property (Chapters 689-724). Chapter 705. Lost or Abandoned Property. Title XLVI. Crimes (Chapters 775-899). Chapter 823. Public Nuisances.” accessed Mar. 19, 2015