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In Florida, is a dog owner liable if their dog bites someone?

According to Florida Statute 767.04, a dog owner is liable for damages if their dog bites someone in a public place or lawfully on/in a private place, including the owner’s property. This responsibility holds true regardless of the dog’s past behavior or the owner’s knowledge of its aggressiveness. A person is considered lawfully on someone’s private property when they have the owner’s permission or a legal right to be there. This permission can be explicit, such as an invitation, or implicit, like when someone is present for a lawful purpose such as delivery, mail service, or other authorized activities.

How does Florida’s modified comparative fault impact dog bite cases?

If a dog bite victim is found to be negligent, the dog owner’s liability is reduced proportionately to the percentage of negligence assigned to the victim. After the enactment of TORT Reform in March 2023, Florida became a modified comparative fault state. This means if a victim is found any more than 50% responsible for the incident, they cannot make a viable claim for compensation.

If the court assigns a victim less than 50% responsibility, say 30%, their compensation would be reduced by 30%. For instance, if they were granted $100,000 in damages, they would only receive $70,000 after the 30% reduction.

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Are there any exceptions to a dog owner’s liability in a dog bite case?

A dog owner may not be deemed liable if they have a clearly displayed sign including the words “Bad Dog” or “Beware of Dog,” though this defense doesn’t apply to victims under 6 years old. Liability also does not apply if the victim was trespassing on the owner’s private property when bitten.

How long do I have to submit a claim following a dog bite incident?

In March 2023, Florida’s Tort Reform decreased the Statute of Limitations for negligence claims, including dog bite cases, from 4 years to 2 years. This means, you now have 2 years from the date of the dog bite incident to file a claim for your injuries.

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How much compensation can I receive for a dog bite claim?

The average cost per claim for dog bite injuries in 2022 was $64,555 according to the Information Institute. However, compensation varies based on factors such as injury severity, medical treatment, insurance coverage, and other considerations.

What types of damages am I eligible to receive compensation for?

In Florida, potential compensation encompasses medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.

Do I need a personal injury attorney to represent me after a dog bite?

After a dog bite, a personal injury attorney provides crucial guidance to help you secure maximum compensation for your damages. Attorneys play a key role in handling evidence collection, documentation, and providing legal representation through the lawsuit process, allowing you to concentrate on your physical and emotional recovery. If you’ve experienced a dog bite in the Tampa, Florida area, contact Diaco Law for legal expertise in ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.

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  • The 2023 Florida Statutes (including Special Session C) Statute 767.04. Online Sunshine: Florida Legislature. (2024, January 24). View Source
  • Christy Bieber, J. D. (2023, November 9). Average dog bite settlement amounts 2024. Forbes. View Source
  • House Bill 837 (2023). The Florida Senate. (n.d.). View Source
  • Triple-I: Dog-related injury claim payouts exceeded $1 billion in 2022. Information Institute. (n.d.). View Source

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Joseph F. Diaco, Jr., Esq. | Diaco Law
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