As much as people love and care for their dogs, they are still animals capable of biting and causing painful injury. These injuries can include broken bones, damaged muscles and nerves, infections and even disfiguring scars.
Because of this, it is crucial to understand who is liable when a dog bites someone. Determining liability will depend on several factors, including the following three questions.
Where did the incident occur?
If a dog bites someone in a public place or a private place he or she is allowed to be in, the dog’s owner will generally be liable for damages resulting from the bite. However, if a person was trespassing when a dog bites him or her, the owner may not be responsible for injuries.
Was someone negligent?
Under Florida laws, negligence has a significant impact on liability and damages. This is especially important when it comes to negligence on the part of the victim. In this state, if a victim’s negligence causes the dog to bit, he or she can still recover damages. However, the courts will reduce an award in proportion to the victim’s negligence.
In other words, if a person was provoking a dog or stepped on it, causing the dog to bite, the courts may determine that the victim was 40 percent liable for the incident. Any amount he or she might collect in a civil suit would, therefore, be reduced by 40 percent.
Were there any warning signs?
In this state, dog owners can be liable for injuries caused by a dog even if the dog has never attacked or bitten anyone before. If a dog is known to be dangerous and attacks someone without provocation, the owner can be guilty of a misdemeanor in addition to being liable for injuries.
It is important to note that a dog owner may not be liable for injuries to someone over the age of 6 if the owner has an actual sign prominently placed and warning people of a “bad dog” on the premises.
If you or a loved one has recently suffered injuries resulting from a dog bite, you should consider these questions carefully to determine if you may have grounds to file a lawsuit seeking damages.