When a dog bite incident happens the dog’s owner (or party harboring or keeping the dog) may be culpable, or the person who is bitten could be at fault under Florida law.
Anyone who is involved in a dog attack should promptly call a West Palm Beach dog bite lawyer to speak to someone experienced in animal attack cases to protect yourself under the law. An experienced injury attorney can best help you pursue a claim.
Why Dogs Bite
Any dog can bite, and bites can be superficial or very serious including mauling.
Biting is a dog’s response to fear, stress, a threat, defending itself or its territory, protecting something it considers valuable such as food or a toy, if it is provoked, or even not feeling well and wants to be left alone, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Preventing Dogs from Biting
Preventing dogs from biting requires socializing the dog when it is young and teaching children how best to approach a dog to alleviate its fear or anxiety. Individuals should use a leash to keep control of the dog when it is in public to prevent attacks, the association suggests.
It is common to witness when a child meets a dog and they quickly stretches out an arm to pet the dog on the head. Trainers say it is better to let the dog approach the person, let the dog smell the hand, and then pet the dog on the shoulder not the head.
Liability in Florida
Florida law places liability on the dog’s owner or harborer no matter if the event occurs on public property, in a public place, or a private place including the dog’s own yard or property.
It does not matter if the dog’s owner has previous knowledge that the dog is “vicious” or did not know it. The dog’s owner is required to pay damages to the injured person.
However, the law provides an exception: If a property owner places a sign reading “bad dog” or “beware of dog” prominently on their property, the owner is not liable for a dog bite occurring on the property, except if the person attacked is six years old or younger. West Palm Beach dog attack lawyers could evaluate the circumstances of a bite and gather evidence showing the property owner’s liability.
The law also places liability on the person who is bitten if that person played a role in causing the dog to attack. This is called “proximate cause,” which fundamentally means the bitten person knew or should have known that the negligent action taken would provoke the dog.
Additionally, if the dog had previous biting or aggressive behavior and the bite victim knew it but did not inform the owner of that, the victim’s damages cannot be claimed under “scienter” (knowledge of a domestic animal’s dangerousness).
Florida is a comparative negligence state so if both the dog owner and the person bitten shared liability, their damages would be reduced by the percentage of their liability. Dog attack attorneys in West Palm Beach could work to refute allegations of shared fault in an effort to maximize recovery.
Working with a Dog Bite Attorney
If you are bitten by a dog, or if you own the dog that did the biting, promptly seeking legal counsel is in your best interest. Circumstances in these kinds of cases vary. By calling a West Palm Beach dog bite attorney today, you can learn if you have a strong case as the injured party.
The attorney can explain the applicable law to you, discuss your options, advise you how damages are proven, and prepare a demand letter to pay the damages. Initial consultations are free and do not place you under any obligation.