Anyone who owns a dog knows that they are a major source of happiness and companionship. However, sometimes an unexpected occurrence can cause even the friendliest dog to bite or attack someone.
Florida is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bite law. This means that if a dog injures another person or animal, or causes damage to someone else’s property, the owner is legally responsible for any damage. This law applies even if the dog has never been bitten anyone or been aggressive before.
This liability applies if the bite occurred on public property or on private property where the victim was lawfully present, including the dog owner’s residence. In other words, if you invite a friend over and your dog bites them, you are legally responsible.
Civil and criminal penalties
The penalty for a dog bite varies depending on the circumstances. If the victim files a civil lawsuit, the owner may be held liable for all damage that occurred to the victim or the victim’s property. In some cases, criminal penalties may include a misdemeanor or felony charge. A felony charge is more likely if the dog had been deemed a “dangerous” dog before the most recent attack.
A dangerous dog is a dog that has bitten or attacked someone in the past, causing serious injury, or a dog that has behaved threateningly to a person in public. A bite from a dangerous dog is a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida. In these cases, the dog is impounded for 10 days.
For the injured
Dog attacks can leave serious injuries, including facial scarring and other wounds that can be life-changing. Victims may be left with huge medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages. A lawsuit against a careless dog owner can help the injured and their families to cope with the long aftermath of a terrible injury.
Anyone with questions or concerns about dog bite law could benefit from speaking with an attorney.