Pensacola Dog Bite Lawyers
Representing Victims of Serious Dog Attacks
Most dogs are beloved members of the family—but even the most trusted pet can still be unpredictable. When dogs bite, leading to serious injury or death, the dog owner can be held liable under Florida’s strict liability statute. In most cases, the victim or victim’s family does not need to prove that the dog owner was somehow negligent in preventing the bite.
Bringing a successful dog bite claim against a dog owner, property owner, or another party can be challenging, especially without the help of a skilled lawyer. If you, your child, or someone you love has been injured in a dog attack, reach out to the Pensacola dog bite lawyers at the Law Office of J.J. Talbott. We have extensive experience handling these types of personal injury claims and can move quickly to protect your rights and your recovery.
Understanding Florida’s Strict Liability Dog Bite Rule
Unlike some states that follow a “one-bite” rule when it comes to dog bites, Florida follows a plaintiff-friendly “strict liability” rule in these cases.
This means that dog owners are generally considered liable for injuries caused by their dogs when both of the following are true:
- The injury was caused by a dog bite
- The victim was in a public place, such as a park, or a private place, such as a home, with the private property owner’s expressed or implied permission
If you were bitten by a dog, you do not need to prove that the owner knew about the dog’s propensity to bite in order to have a claim against the dog owner. You also do not have to prove that the dog had bitten anyone before or had acted aggressively in the past, nor do you have to prove that the dog owner acted negligently or negligently failed to act.
Do Non-Bite Injuries Fall Under Strict Liability?
Florida’s dog bite statute applies only to dog bites, not other injuries caused by dogs. However, if you suffered a non-bite injury, you could still have a claim for damages.
Non-bite dog injury claims are generally brought on the grounds of negligence. As such, they are nearly identical to other types of personal injury claims in that you must prove that the defendant (i.e., the dog owner) owed you a duty of care but failed to uphold this duty of care, thereby causing your injuries and resulting damages.
For example, if you were walking in a city park where leash laws were in effect, and you were knocked down by an unleashed dog that ran up to you as you were walking, causing you to suffer a broken wrist, scrapes, and a concussion, you could have a claim against the dog owner. In this case, you would be able to prove negligence by proving that the dog was off-leash, despite the presence of leash laws mandating the dog be leashed and under the control of its owner.
What Defenses to Dog Bite Claims Do Dog Owners Have?
Although strict liability dog bite rules tend to favor victims, dog owners do have some legal defenses to these claims.
Under Florida law, a dog owner or property owner can defend against a dog bite claim by proving one of the following:
- Trespassing: If the victim was trespassing on private property when the bite occurred, they might not have a case. Under Florida’s dog bite statute, strict liability only applies when the bite occurs on public property or private property where the victim had the owner’s expressed or implied intent to be on the property.
- “Bad Dog” Signs: Dog owners and property owners can defend against claims by proving that a “bad dog” or similar warning sign was prominently displayed on the property where the bite occurred. Note that this does not apply in cases where the victim is under six years old or when the owner was negligent in relation to the incident.
- Comparative Negligence: A dog owner may avoid some degree of liability if they can prove that the victim was somehow negligent in relation to the bite. For example, the owner might claim that the victim provoked the dog into biting. In Florida, you can still recover compensation if you were partly at fault, but your recovery will be reduced.
Dog bites and attacks can lead to severe injuries and even deaths. This is especially true when the victim is a child, which, sadly, is often the case. Of the approximately 850,000 people who seek medical attention for dog bites each year in the U.S., about 400,000 are children.
Some of the most common dog bite-related injuries include:
- Puncture wounds
- Broken bones
- Head and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Eye injuries
- Face injuries
- Broken skin
- Nerve damage
- Severe bleeding
- Tissue damage
- Abrasions and lacerations
To make matters worse, dog bites put victims at an increased risk of serious and even life-threatening complications, such as infections, rabies, tetanus, and more.
The effects of a dog bite or attack can be extreme, often leading to significant physical, psychological, and financial challenges. At the Law Office of J.J. Talbott, we fight to hold dog owners and other liable parties accountable for all of our clients’ damages.
Depending on the specifics of your case, you could be owed compensation for your:
- Medical expenses
- Future care costs
- Lost income/wages
- Pain and suffering
- Lost earning ability
- Lost quality of life
- Emotional distress
- Anguish and trauma
Our goal is to recover every cent you are owed. We want to help you not only secure the financial resources you need to obtain medical care and manage unexpected expenses but also the justice you need to heal.
Are Dog Owners Liable Whenever Their Dog Bites a Person?
Florida law imposes strict liability on dog owners. This means the owners are liable whenever their dog bites another, regardless of whether the owner was being careful or negligent with the dog and whether the owner had any reason to believe the dog might be dangerous. The only exception is when the owner had a “Bad Dog” sign posted prominently in the yard and was not otherwise negligent, but this exception only applies if the victim of the attack was six years old or older.
Alabama dog bite law is a little more complex. Generally speaking, an owner who is careless with the animal, such as allowing it to roam free off-leash, can be liable for injuries caused. Even without negligence, an owner can still be held strictly liable in certain circumstances, but the amount of damages may be reduced if the owner had no knowledge that the animal may be dangerous.