Bitten By A Dog In Florida?
Dog bite cases are not as common as many people think – out of approximately 90 million pet dogs in the United States, by the estimate of the Humane Society of America, there are between 6,000 and 13,000 attacks on the average per year, with only around 20 deaths in the same time frame. Nonetheless, when you have been bitten by a dog, the injuries you sustain are very real, and can be quite severe in extreme situations. If you have been injured in this way, consulting an experienced attorney may be a good idea for you to be aware of your potential options.
Strict Liability May Be An Option
For a dog bite victim, there are quite a few potential methods to recover for your injuries. Most of them require a showing that the dog’s owner was somehow negligent or reckless in allowing their dog to act as they did. However, one potential legal theory in dog bite law under which negligence does not actually have to be proven is referred to as strict liability. Strict liability is a legal theory that holds a person liable (as opposed to ‘guilty,’ as in criminal law) even if they had no intention to act negligently. In other words, in a strict liability lawsuit, intent is irrelevant.
Florida law explicitly provides that the owner of any dog who bites someone while in a public place, or “lawfully in a private place,” is liable automatically for any damages suffered by that person, regardless of whether the owner knew about any vicious propensities in the dog. This is true for the majority of people, but not for everyone – trespassers are generally only owed the duty to refrain from intentionally injuring them, but no more.
Possible Negligence Matters
The other most common legal theory seen in dog bite cases is negligence. If you have been bitten by a dog and you were not in a public place or a private place that was legally available to you, you may still be able to file suit against the dog’s owner if you can show that the owner breached their duty to exercise reasonable care, and that the injuries you suffered were a direct result of that failure. Keep in mind, however, that in a negligence case, any alleged fault on the part of the victim may lower their chance at recovery, because Florida law will not reward a victim for their own negligence.
There is another theory that may also apply, referred to as negligence per se, though it is much less common than the other two. If a dog’s owner violates a law already on the books, resulting in the dog biting someone. For example, if a dog owner allows their pet to wander around while not on a leash, and their pet bites someone, the owner would be liable as a matter of law – their choices violate Florida’s leash laws, and if someone is injured due to that violation, the person who broke the law is statutorily liable.
Contact A Tampa Dog Bite Attorney
Dogs are beloved members of many families, but if they bite people, their owners are responsible and must face the consequences. The Tampa personal injury attorneys from the Rinaldo Law Group are ready to help guide you through the process of obtaining compensation for what you have been through and to try and answer your questions on the case. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.