Over the course of a lifetime, approximately one in every 69 people will be bitten by a dog—and because minor nips and playful bites are rarely reported, the true incidence of dog bites is likely much higher. Dog bite injuries can often require medical treatment or even result in permanent disfigurement, disability, or death. It’s important to know more about dog bite injury cases under Florida law.
Statute of Limitations
As in many other Florida personal injury cases, an injured victim has four years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner. Missing this deadline, even with a good reason, could eliminate your ability to pursue this claim. This is one reason why it’s so important to contact an attorney early on in the process to understand your rights and what next steps may be available to you.
Under Florida law, a personal injury plaintiff’s claims can be subject to the principle of “comparative negligence.” Put simply, this means the injured party may only be able to recover the damages attributable to the other person’s negligence—if you were partially at fault (such as by antagonizing the dog), any recovery to which you’d otherwise be entitled will be reduced.
For example, if you suffered $10,000 in damages but are deemed 35% at fault for your injuries, you’ll be able to recover only $6,500 (or 65% of your damages) from the defendant.
What You’ll Need to Prove to Recover Damages
Florida’s dog bite statute provides that a dog’s owner is liable for any injuries suffered when a dog bites a person and the person is either in a public place or lawfully on private property. This means there are no legal consequences when a dog bites an intruder—only when the victim is in a place he or she has the right to be.
Because Florida is a “strict liability” state, it will need to be proved that a dog belonging to the defendant bit you and that this bite resulted in injuries. You don’t need to prove that the dog was previously aggressive or introduce any evidence of previous injuries to others—liability can be found even if the dog has never bitten anyone before. And this law isn’t breed-restrictive, which means liability can extend from Pitbulls and Great Danes to Yorkies and Toy Poodles.
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you have a relatively short window of time to file a personal injury lawsuit and seek the justice you deserve. The experienced attorneys at Ginnis, Krathen, & Zelnick, P.A. can help. Give us a call at (954) 905-4600 or fill out the short contact form on our website to speak with a personal injury attorney today.