Knowledgeable Dog Bites Attorney Securing Compensation for Ocoee & Central Florida Personal Injury Victims
Dogs are some of the most wonderful furry friends a family can have when they are properly trained, controlled, and socialized. Unfortunately, not all people with pets take their duties as responsible dog owners seriously and injuries do occur. If you or your child has suffered a dog bite injury, Cressman Law Firm, P.A. can help you take the appropriate legal steps to receive compensation.
Florida is a Strict Liability State
When it comes to the laws surrounding dog bites, Florida is one of several states that has what is called a “strict liability” statute. This means that dog owners are responsible for their pet’s actions at all times, both in public and at their own residence. For context, other states without strict liability laws require a pet owner to be aware that their dog was aggressive or had a history of biting in order to be held liable. Florida requires no such previous knowledge and holds dog owners accountable in virtually all situations.
Trespassing & the Strict Liability Statute
There are several circumstances which may preclude you from holding the biting dog’s owners legally liable. One of those is trespassing. Under the law, the owner is not responsible for the safety of people who enter their property unlawfully and without their permission. This can sometimes present a bit of a gray area, legally speaking. For example, if a child retrieves a baseball from the unfenced front yard of a neighbor and their dog runs out of the house and bites the child, the owners may be held partially or fully liable.
Comparative Fault & Dog Bites
Another exception to the strict liability statute comes into play if a dog is unnecessarily provoked, in which case comparative fault must be examined. For example, say a small child sneaks up on a dog and yanks its tail, causing the startled dog to turn around and bite the child. If you attempt to sue the owner for damages, the court will likely attribute a percentage of the blame on your child and reduce the amount of compensation you can collect from your claim. Say the judge determines the child was 30% responsible for the bite. You would only be able to collect 70% of the awarded damages.