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Dog Bite Lawsuits: Strict Liability vs. Premises Liability

By William Chanfrau, Jr. on November 23, 2015

Gavel and scalesDogs are often referred to as man’s best friend. Unfortunately, there are cases in which dogs bite or attack a person. Dog bites may occur due to poor training or neglect of an owner, or as a result of animal instinct. If you or a loved one has been attacked by a dog, you need to know your rights. Is the dog’s owner responsible, or the property owner? Are you at fault? Having an attorney who is well versed in laws pertaining to dog bites will help you recover the maximum value allowed in your case. To learn more about strict liability vs. premises liability in dog bite lawsuits, contact our Daytona Beach, FL practice today.

Florida’s Strict Liability Laws

In Florida, the owner of a dog is responsible for all damages suffered by a person bitten by the dog, regardless of whether or not the owner had any previous knowledge that the dog might bite. This law applies when the victim is on public property or on private property in an official capacity, such as a police officer or mailman, or by invitation. If the dog owner has an easily readable sign containing the words “Beware of Dog” placed in a spot where it can readily be seen, the owner may be free from liability unless the victim is under six years old and unable to read the sign. The sign exception is also voided if the bite is a result of the owner’s negligence. Negligence can be anything from violating a leash law to beating or starving the dog.

Premises Liability

Premises liability law states that the owner of a property may be held responsible for damages if the owner or landlord could have prevented the injury. This includes allowing a tenant to keep a dog that the landlord knows is prone to biting or viciousness, or not enforcing rules pertaining to dog breeds that are not allowed on the premises. For example, if a landlord is aware that a tenant’s dog has threatened other tenants, and he or she did not evict the owner or ask for the removal of the dogs, the landlord may be held liable for damages. A landlord may also be held liable if the attack takes place on property that he or she does not own, but that is advertised as an amenity to the property owned, such as an adjacent park or trail.

Liability Exceptions

There are exceptions that may lead to the dog owner being found only partially responsible or not at all responsible. If the victim is bitten while trespassing or committing a crime on the dog owner’s property, the owner may be free from liability. If the owner can prove that the victim played a part in the attack, by teasing or provoking the dog, the victim may be held partially responsible. In this case, the liability of the owner is decreased by the percentage of negligence shown by the victim.

Call Us for a Consultation Today

Being attacked by a dog can be a traumatic experience. Don’t suffer any more than necessary. Contact Chanfrau and Chanfrau today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. Our attorneys are experienced in Florida’s dog bite laws and liability. They will explain your rights and go after the maximum value allowed in your case.

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