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Dog Bites In Florida

Dog bites are a relatively common cause of a personal injury that people often do not give a lot of thought to.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are nearly 8 million incidents of people being bitten by a domestic dog in the United States every year.  Of those incidents, about 386,000 are severe enough that the people involved seek treatment at an emergency room.  Statistically, about half the people bitten by dogs every year are children.  Insurance companies in the United States pay out over a billion dollars on dog bite-related claims each year.

The breed that is responsible for the most dog bite-related deaths last year was the Pit Bull, which, because of its stout build and imposing physique, might not come as a surprise.  Somewhat disproving the common misconception that bigger dogs (rather than irresponsible dog owners) are the source of the majority of dog bite occurrences is the fact that the second most common breed to be involved in a deadly bite incident was the Cocker Spaniel, with only seven fewer deaths caused in the last year.

Statutory Liability in Florida

In our state, Florida statutes provide that owners are held to strict liability theory if their dog injures another person, and that the theory of contributory negligence is used during the determination of damages in a dog bite case.  What this means is that the owner of a dog who bites a person will be held financially responsible for the injuries, however, if the person who was bitten is determined to have had any fault in the bite the recovery that they can be awarded for their injuries will be reduced by an amount equal to their responsibility in the incident; and if the court determines that the person who was bitten was entirely at fault for the incident they will be unable to recover for any injuries that they received.

Children Younger Than Six Years Old

Florida statutes have several special-case exemptions that apply when the person who is bitten is under six years old.  To begin with, children under six are held by statute to be incapable of conduct that can provoke a dog, and thus can’t be held to be contributorily negligent if they are bitten.  While the argument that a child under six does not have the capability, or for that matter the will, to provoke a violent response from a dog may seem questionable, Florida law states that the actions of a child under six will not be considered in these sorts of legal proceedings.  However, the contributory negligence of a parent in improperly supervising their child may be considered in dog bite cases, even if the parent has not been brought as a party to the lawsuit, and a child’s recovery can be reduced because of this.

“Beware Of Dog” Signs

If a person over the age of six is bitten by a dog while on a dog owner’s property, and the dog owner has a prominently located sign stating “Beware of Dog” the person who was bitten will be considered to have actual notice of the risk of being bitten.  In these cases the dog owner will be held by Florida statute to be not liable for any injuries.  This clause makes it a good idea for dog owners, regardless of the disposition of their pets, to place a sign on their property as cheap insurance against potential litigation in the event, however improbable, of an incident involving their dog.

Let Us Assist You with Your Case

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, we encourage you to contact a member of our legal team online or by telephone at 305-371-3111 to discuss your situation and determine the best way to proceed with your potential lawsuit. The attorneys at the office of Alan Goldfarb, P.A. are here to help you today.

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