Florida Dog Bite Laws
Our dogs are part of our families so it can be easy to forget that they're really animals and not people. When something sets them off, your cuddly ball of fur may go all Rambo on you and attack or bite someone. While your dog's behavior may be unexpected or perhaps provoked, as a Floridian you are strictly liable for any damage or injury caused. You may be able to reduce your liability if the person bitten was negligent in causing the biting incident, but most likely you'll be liable for some or all of the injury.
In addition to civil liabilities, dog owners can also be subjected to criminal penalties, especially if your dog is considered a dangerous animal. If your dog has previously attacked someone, it may have been declared a dangerous dog and criminal penalties are more likely to apply. However, even if your dog hasn't been previously declared dangerous, you may still be criminally liable if the attack is considered severe. Most of the time these criminal charges will be misdemeanors, but felony charges may apply in cases of serious injury or death.
Florida Dog Bite Laws: The Basics
The chart below provides you with a plain language summary of the statutes that comprise Florida's dog bite laws, with links to important code sections.
Florida Statutes, Title XLV (Torts):
Dog Bite Liability
Liability for Dog Bites
The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners' knowledge of such viciousness.
Lawfully Upon Private Property
A person is lawfully upon private property of such owner within the meaning of this act when the person is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him or her by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when the person is on such property upon invitation, expressed or implied, of the owner.
A dog in Florida is deemed "dangerous" when any of the following apply:
Exceptions to Liability
You may not be liable for dog bites in Florida if any of the following apply:
Possible Penalties and Sentencing
Criminal Penalties - Previously determined dangerous dog bites or attacks:
Criminal Penalties - Previously determined dangerous dog causes severe injury or death
Criminal Penalties - Dog not previously determined dangerous causes severe injury or death
Criminal Penalties - If owner had knew of dog's dangerous propensities
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
- Animal Attack and Dog Bite Claim Resources
- Does the Type of Animal Affect a Bite Injury Case?
- Dog / Animal Bites: FAQ
Get a Legal Review of Your Florida Dog Bite Situation
If you've been bitten by a dog, the first thing you should do -- after getting the contact information of the owner (if nearby) -- is seek medical attention. Since the owner of a dog that bites you can be strictly liable for your injuries, you may not have to prove negligence. Get started on recovering for damages for the dog bite today by having a personal injury attorney in Florida review your case.
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