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Two Types Of Dog Bite Law In Florida


Our dogs are our companions, for work or play, and we try to give them the best lives possible. However, too many people do not realize that a good life includes training to not be aggressive toward humans. A dog that bites another person, unprovoked, faces an uncertain future, and its owner may be on the proverbial hook for thousands of dollars in medical bills if they are not careful. If you have been bitten by a dog in Florida, you should familiarize yourself with your legal options in terms of seeking monetary recovery; dog bite injuries can be severe and seeking compensation can help cover your medical bills.


There are two types of dog bite claims in Florida, and which one to file suit with is usually dependent on the specific situation. A dog bite claim under a standard negligence theory will happen when the dog owner did not uphold their duty to exercise reasonable care – in other words, when someone does not act in the way that a reasonable dog owner would act, especially if they were aware of their dog’s possible tendency to bite. One of the most common examples of this is for someone to allow their dog to run free, which raises the chances that it will possibly bite someone exponentially.

Keep in mind that negligence is not malice. No intent to have one’s dog bite another person is needed in order to be negligent; rather, negligence is a standard where the defendant allegedly did not do enough to keep other people safe, even though the law requires that they do. Florida law holds that if a dog owner puts up a prominent sign that reads “Bad Dog,” it will immunize the owner from many dog bite suits simply because they chose to warn potential victims of a vicious dog. (The exception is if the dog bites a child under age 6, because it is presumed that they could not read the sign).

Strict Liability

The second type of dog bite claim occurs under a theory called strict liability. In a negligence case, a plaintiff must establish that the defendant was negligent – that the defendant failed their duty to exercise reasonable care, and that the defendant’s failure to act was the direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries – before they can recover monetarily. Under the theory of strict liability, the plaintiff does not have to establish negligence – the defendant is considered to have been negligent, as a matter of law. Thus, the defendant will be liable for any injuries sustained as a result of their dog’s biting, as long as the bite happened on public property or private property where the plaintiff was allowed to be.

It is important to remember that one can be held strictly liable for their dog biting someone even if they had no idea that the dog might be vicious or have any kind of propensity to bite. Florida does not have what other states call the “one bite” rule, where a dog is essentially excused from consequences of one bite if the owner has no idea that the dog is vicious – strict liability does not take intention or knowledge into account, because dog bite injuries can be so severe that the state wants to give victims the best chance to recover.

Call A Tampa Dog Bite Lawyer

While most of the time, the dogs we choose to share our lives with are well behaved and non-threatening, we never entirely know what might happen in an animal’s mind. If you have been bitten by a dog, contacting a Tampa personal injury lawyer is a good first step toward deciding what you should do next. The Rinaldo Law Group can offer understanding and compassionate representation during a time that can be very intimidating or even scary for many people. Call us today for a free consultation.


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