Dog bite law is unique from other types of premises liability law in that when a dog bites an individual, the dog owner is strictly liable, subject to some exceptions, for the damages or injury caused by the dog. This means that the person bitten does not have to show that the dog owner was negligent. However, for strict liability to come into play, the dog bite must either be in a public area, such as a street or beach, or while an invitee onto the private property where the dog is located; the property of the owner of the dog is included. Although the dog owner is strictly liable, the percentage of liability will be reduced by any negligence on behalf of the person who is bitten. This means for example, that if you are teasing a dog and the dog then bites you, causing injury, your final recovery may be reduced by the percentage of fault that you are assessed.
Again however, Florida law has another unique law regarding dog bites in that the owner of the premises is not liable for injuries caused by his or her dog if the owner has prominently and openly displayed on the premises a sign that says "BAD DOG." There are of course exceptions - for example - if the person bitten is a child the age of six or younger, then the dog owner is still liable even if the "BAD DOG" sign is displayed correctly.
Florida law also recently did away with the law that would take into account the prior vicious tendencies of the dog. Now, regardless of the dog's past history in attacking or biting people, the property owner will be liable for any dog bites.
The dog owner is also liable for any damages caused by his or her dog to another domestic animal or to livestock. Thus, if a dog attacks and kills someone else's pet, the dog owner can be held liable for the damages.
All of these specific and unique laws regarding dog bites make is essential to contact an attorney immediately should you or someone you know be attacked by a dog. At Halpern Santos & Pinkert, P.A., we have the ability and experience to successfully navigate dog bite law and help maximize your recovery from a dog bite case.