Who is liable when the dog bites?

December 9, 2022 | Premises Liability

Florida law makes dog owners liable if their pet bites someone in public. Liability also rests with the owner if the victim was on private property and it was within the law for them to be there. This is still the case even if the bite took place on the dog owner’s property. The dog’s owner is then liable for any damages that the victim has suffered from the bite or bites.

Did the victim’s negligence cause the bite?

Under this law, it doesn’t matter how vicious the dog’s behavior had previously been. It also makes no difference if the person who was bitten was aware of how dangerous the dog was.

If the victim of the bite displayed negligence, this might have an impact on how liable the dog’s owner is. Experts break down an approximate percentage of how much the victim’s negligence played into them getting bitten. What’s left over is the portion that the owner is liable for.

A person can find themselves lawfully on the private property of a dog’s owner for a variety of reasons. One common example is when they are on the property performing their jobs, such as public utilities and post office workers.

Someone is also legally on the dog owner’s property if the person was invited to be there. Such an invitation can be implied or expressed directly.

Did the dog owner have a sign clearly posted?

The dog’s owner is generally freed from premises liability if they have a sign that says “Bad Dog.” This sign must be somewhere that’s clearly visible with lettering that is easy to read.

However, a sign is not enough to remove liability from the dog owner if the victim of the dog bite was under six years old. This is also the case if the owner’s negligence or omission proximately led to the incident.

Jared K. Newman Esq. is the Managing Partner of the Personal Injury division at South Florida Law, PLLC. Mr. Newman is an experienced civil litigation attorney who has dedicated his practice to representing those injured while driving, walking, at work or elsewhere due to the negligence of others. He is an experienced advocate for his clients against insurance companies that refuse to pay fair and just compensation for the injuries caused by their insureds. His expertise in litigation rounds out the capabilities that form the personal injury practice area of the firm. Born and raised in Miami, Florida, he received his bachelor’s degree in Criminology from the University of Florida and his Juris Doctorate from South Texas College of Law in Houston, Texas. Mr. Newman has been a member of the Florida Bar since 2010.