Options After A Dog Bite In Florida
According to statistics from 2019, approximately 63.4 million U.S. households own at least one dog. They can be a source of joy and comfort for the people that own and care for them. However, dog owners do have the responsibility to ensure their pet does not cause injury to another person, and if they fail in this duty, they can wind up liable for any harm that the victim suffers. The most common way a dog can injure someone is to bite them, and in Florida, there are specific laws governing this scenario.
Several Ways To Seek Redress
There are many different possible options that a dog bite victim can use to try and seek compensation for their injuries. The most common are negligence (or negligence per se) and strict liability, though it is possible to bring a dog bite case under other theories of civil law. Most of the time, the first thing that an injured person should do is to file a claim with the dog owner’s homeowners’ insurance or renters’ insurance, and if the insurer fails to handle your claim appropriately, it will be the insurer you face in court, rather than the dog’s owner, who may be a friend or family member.
Depending on the legal theory under which you file your claim, you should be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages – in other words, tangible and intangible damages. Tangible damages are those that can be quantified, such as medical bills and lost wages. Intangible damages are harder to put a value on (usually requiring expert testimony), such as pain and suffering or loss of quality of life.
Which Theory To Use?
The most important part of any dog bite case is determining the legal theory under which you should bring it. Perhaps the easiest is a theory of strict statutory liability. Florida law holds that if a person is bitten in a public place, or “lawfully on or in” a private place (even the dog owner’s property), the owner is liable for damages suffered by that person, even if the dog has no prior history of aggression. Unlike in negligence law, nothing must be proven except that the person was present and that they were bitten.
If your situation is one where strict liability cannot apply, most people choose to file under a theory of negligence. If you can show that the dog’s owner had a duty to exercise reasonable care toward those that might come into contact with their dog, and they failed to do so, the owner will generally be held liable as long as you can establish that no other event could have caused your injuries. Be advised, however, that there is an exception – if the owner has put up an easily readable sign that displays the words “Bad Dog” on their property, they will not be liable for injuries except to a child under age 6.
Call A Tampa Dog Bite Attorney
Being bitten by a dog can cause serious, even life-changing injuries. If you have gone through this recently, enlisting a Tampa personal injury attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can be the first step toward getting closure on an incident that can leave long-lasting mental and physical scars. We can offer zealous representation to make sure your rights are protected. Call our offices today for a free consultation.