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Your Guide to Florida Dog Bite and Injury Laws

Florida is considered a dog-friendly state. When you are out and about, you are sure to see a few dogs around. Dog owners even take their furry friends to restaurants to eat on their outdoor patios. Since the weather is so nice year-round, you are sure to run into a few dogs and their owners while you are out running errands.

With the prevalence of dogs, there is also a heightened risk of a dog bite injury. Dog bites can result in serious injuries that can ultimately prove quite costly for dog owners and dog bite victims.

Florida Dog Bite Incidents

So, how many dog bites actually occur in Florida? Believe it or not, Florida is ranked number two in the country for dog bites that resulted in an insurance claim. According to the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm, the average cost of each of these dog bite claims was over $40,000.

The monetary compensation a dog bite victim receives depends on the severity of their injuries and other damages. You should never settle an insurance claim until you seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney who is familiar with dog bite cases. The attorney can evaluate your specific case and represent your interests.

Liability for Dog Bite Injuries

The dog owner can be proven liable for any injuries caused by their dog. This includes bites as well as accidents. For example, if a person was injured due to tripping over the dog or being pushed by the dog.

As a dog bite victim, you can also seek compensation for injuries that may prove to have lifelong impacts, including scarring, emotional and mental distress, and permanent disabilities.
However, a dog owner may not be liable for the injuries if the dog bite victim was trespassing. An attorney experienced in this area may also be able to raise a defense stating comparative negligence on the dog owner's behalf.

If the court finds the dog bite victim had any fault in the incident at all, they will be partially responsible. This means that the amount for the damages will be reduced by the percentage representing the fault of the owner and victim.

Statute of Limitations and Damages for Dog Bite Claims

There is a four-year statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in Florida for injuries from a dog bite. Some of the injuries and damages you can seek compensation for following a dog bite injury include:

• Cuts and bruises
• Lacerations and abrasions
• Facial scarring
• Teeth marks and bites
• Damage to soft tissues
• Traumatic brain injuries
• Broken bones and fractures
• Permanent damages

Dangerous Dog Act

There is more to dog bite incidents that go beyond a lawsuit risk. Dog owners may also face what is known as the Dangerous Dog Act. Under this act, criminal charges can be placed in certain situations.

If a dog bites another dog or a person, the dog owner can be charged with a misdemeanor, and the dog may be classified as dangerous by the Animal Control Board. If the dog owner had previous knowledge regarding their dog's aggressive behavior, they could also be charged.

If the injuries are severe, the dog may be euthanized. However, dog owners still have the right to defend their dog in these cases when the dog acted in defense of its family or itself such as when the dog bite victim was found trespassing on the dog owner's property.

If you have been involved in a dog bite incident, whether you are the owner or the victim, you may want to seek counsel from an experienced dog bite attorney. They can help you navigate the process, fill you in on your rights, and make sure all avenues are explored.