If you are bitten by a dog or some other pet belonging to a neighbor, family member, friend or even a stranger, it usually is the responsibility of the pet’s owner to pay your medical bills and other expenses. However, it may help to have the advice of a personal injury attorney if you are facing any type of animal bite case.
What Does Florida Law Say About Dog Bites?
Florida law specifically references dogs in Section 767.04, although animal bites could theoretically come from any pet. In part, this statute states:
“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.”
Clearly, this law is intended to establish two important points: first, that the owner is liable for the dog’s behavior regardless of whether the dog has bitten before; and secondly, that a victim must be lawfully on the property. This protects property owners from lawsuits filed by burglars, for example, who were breaking into a house and were bitten by a dog.
The statute goes on to say, however, that negligence on the part of the victim can reduce the liability of the owner. If the victim was deliberately agitating the dog, for example, the owner might claim that the victim should have known better and contributed to his or her own injuries. Further, the law states that hanging a prominent sign including the words “Bad Dog” is sufficient to warn others of the danger of a dog that may bite.
People other than the dog’s owner can also be liable. For example, if a landlord knows that a tenant has a dog that could be vicious, the landlord could be held liable if that dog attacks someone.
What Should I Do If I Am Bitten By a Dog?
If you are bitten by a dog, it is important to see medical help immediately. Not only can animal bites cause serious physical harm but animals can carry diseases that can be passed to humans.
In addition to seeking medical help, you should also seek the help of an attorney experienced in handling dog bite cases. Contact the attorneys at Bernstein & Maryanoff in Miami if you have been the victim of an animal bite.