Overcoming Defenses to Dog Bite Liability in Florida
Florida law is more generous to dog bite victims than some other state statutes. In Florida, dog owners are liable for any bites, under the doctrine of strict – or automatic – liability. In other words, the victim does not need to establish in court that the dog owner knew or should have known that the dog had a propensity to bite or be aggressive or vicious. Rather the victim simply needs to prove that he or she was bitten by the dog belonging to the defendant. However, the victim’s experienced dog bite lawyer in Florida will still need to be familiar with combating any defenses the dog owner may claim.
Common Defenses to Dog Bite Liability in Florida
Florida law provides several acceptable defenses for dog owners accused of liability for a dog bite, including that the victim was not on the property lawfully, that the victim directly caused the dog to bite through their own negligent actions, and that adequate warning signs were posted.
Trespassing is a defense to a dog bite claim. A trespassing victim may not typically recover for an injury, since he or she did not have a right to be on the property. However, anyone who had an express or implied invitation to be on the property can recover damages for a dog bite that occurs there. This includes not only guests to the property, but also so-called “licensees,” such as salespeople or utility workers.
Another partial defense to dog bite liability in Florida is that the victim contributed in some way to causing his or her own injuries. Any damages awarded to a victim who negligently or recklessly caused the dog to bite may be reduced by the portion of his or her fault in causing the injury.
With this defense, it is possible that even under the law of strict liability for dog bites, a victim could recover very little if the court determines he or she was largely at fault. For this reason, it is essential that you work with an experienced dog bite injury attorney in Florida who is skilled at demonstrating for the jury that victims were not at fault.
Florida law has established a way in which dog owners can protect themselves from dog bite liability, to a degree. Owners may post signs on their property warning visitors of a “bad dog.” Unless the dog bite victim is under the age of six, such a warning sign may relieve the owner of strict liability for a bite that occurs, so long as the bite does not stem from the dog owner’s negligence.
If you or your loved one was bitten by a dog whose owner displayed a warning, your Florida dog bite attorney can still pursue compensation on your behalf by arguing that the owner was negligent.
Consult a Dog Bite Attorney in Florida
While there are several viable defenses to dog bite liability in Florida, your experienced dog bite lawyer at the Scoma Law Firm can help you pursue compensation for your damages, including medical bills, rehabilitation, lost wages, reconstructive surgery, and other costs. Reach out to us today for help.