Florida dog bite statute changes- who is liable?

On January 22, Florida’s dog bite statute imposed strict liability upon dog owners for a bite that causes injury to a person.

Section 767.04 stated that a dog owner is liable for any damages inflicted upon a person who is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the dog owner’s property, regardless of the dog’s former viciousness or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.

In the dog owner’s defense, if a dog is provoked, consideration will be taken into account, reducing the liability of the owner.    If a person is unlawfully on a dog owner’s property, the owner is not liable, except as to a person under the age of 6.

In the case of a landlord and tenant, the landlord may be liable for tenant’s dog if the landlord knows the dog is vicious.  Specific rules as to size and breed of dogs set forth by the landlord are the landlord’s responsibility to enforce.

For example, in Ramirez v. M.L. Management Co., Inc., 920 So.2d 36 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005), the landlord was aware that a tenant’s pit bulls had threatened other tenants, but the landlord did not evict the owner of the pit bulls. When they attacked a child who was on adjacent property, the landlord was held liable.

There is an exception to the Florida Dog Bite Statute.  If a “Bad Dog” or “Beware of Dog” sign is posted in a prominent location & is easily readable, the dog owner is released from liability, except in the case of a 6 year old child or younger.  However, a parent’s failure to supervise his young child can reduce the compensation of the dog owner or other liable party.

Whether you are Fido’s owner or the victim of  Fido’s bite, Blick Law Firm is here to help you. Contact us today if you have a potential dog bite personal injury claim. Think quick, call Blick! 813-931-0840.

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