A dog bite can leave you or a loved one with a serious injury. Florida law requires dog owners and owners of other potentially dangerous animals to take reasonable steps in an effort to prevent their pets from harming others. If someone neglects this responsibility, and you’re a victim of a dog bite or animal attack as a result, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills and other related losses. A dog bite and animal attack lawyer can help you recover the damages you deserve.
Dog Bites & Animal Attacks: What You Need to Know
Dog bites can cause serious injuries and cost you thousands of dollars in hospital expenses, lost work, and pain and suffering. It’s essential to take certain measures to ensure that your health and legal rights are protected after a dog bite or animal attack in Miami, Florida. If you have been hurt in a dog bite event, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your injuries.
Miami personal injury attorney, Brian L. Elstein, Esq., can explore your legal options and help determine the best method to get you the financial compensation you deserve. At Elstein Legal, we have the experience needed to develop a strong claim and provide aggressive legal representation for dog bite attack victims in Miami.
Florida’s law is actually somewhat unique when compared to that of many other states. Often, a state’s dog bite law will require a dog’s owner to have known their dog had a history of violent or vicious tendencies for them to be held liable. That’s not the case in Miami. In Florida, even if a dog owner didn’t suspect their dog of being dangerous, if their dog bites someone and the victim sustains injuries, that victim can pursue compensation.
Miami Dog Bite Lawsuits and Claims
Many people are hesitant to pursue a dog bite claim. The owner may be a friend or family member, and they may think it’s a complicated situation. It’s often a homeowners insurance policy that steps in to cover the damages for the victim. At Elstein Legal, we can explain the laws and different insurance policies that may apply to cover your dog bite or animal attack injuries.
Miami-Dade County and Florida Dog Bite Laws
Florida’s dog bite law is outlined in Florida law 767.04. The statute says that a dog owner is legally liable for damages that the dog causes. The victim must be either in a public place or lawfully in a private location. Liability is strict without regard for a history of viciousness on the part of the dog.
In addition to the state laws that apply to dog bites in Miami and throughout Florida, Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami also have specific municipal ordinances regarding animal bites. For example, according to Miami-Dade County Municipal Code Sec. 5-22, the party who owns the dog or is responsible for the dog is liable when:
- The dog, when unprovoked, endangers, attacks, or bites a human
- The dog, when unprovoked and while off the responsible party’s property, attacks or bites a domestic animal
- The owner or caretaker for the dog trains a dog for dogfighting
- The dog, when unprovoked, chases or approaches a human in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack upon the streets, sidewalks, or any other public property or common area of a private building or development
The County Code of Ordinances also outlines:
- The process by which the Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department can designate a dog as dangerous
- Specific situations for which the dog owner or caretaker is not responsible for a dog bite
- Penalties in a dangerous dog investigation
- The conditions for registration of the dog required by Animal Control after it is declared dangerous
- Specific considerations and requirements for when a dog that has or is suspected of having rabies bites someone
- Insurance requirements for owners of specific breeds of dogs
Comparative Negligence in Miami-Dade Dog Bite Claims
Florida’s comparative negligence laws apply to dog bite claims in Miami. The law says that the court may reduce your compensation according to your apportioned responsibility for the accident. That means that the court will determine a percentage amount that each party in the case was responsible for the dog bite or animal attack.
Then, the percent to which you were responsible for the attack is deducted from your settlement amount. However, it’s important to note that you can still recover compensation even if you share responsibility for the bite.
Under Florida law, you could also be found to be at least partially responsible for being bitten due to contributory negligence. For example, a dog’s owner could argue the dog bit you because you knowingly provoked it in some way. This could reduce the amount of compensation you receive.
Miami Dog Bite Lawsuit FAQs
Yes, you can bring a lawsuit for a dog bite in Miami. Florida laws allow victims to claim financial compensation for their injuries, financial losses, and suffering. To win a claim, you must prove that you are the victim of a dog bite and that you have suffered physical injury or property damage as a result.
A dog owner or the person responsible for the dog’s care may be responsible for a dog bite in Miami. Florida laws regarding dog bites apply in Miami. The state uses a system of strict liability to assign responsibility to the dog owner in most situations.
No, Florida does not have a “one-bite” rule. Instead, victims may receive compensation even if the dog does not have a history of vicious behavior before the attack. Rather than a one-bite rule, Florida uses a strict liability system to require the dog owner to pay the victim for their damages.
While a dog owner is responsible for a dog bite claim, in many cases, the victim may receive compensation through the owner’s homeowner insurance policy. So, even though the owner may be legally liable, they can look to their home insurance policy for payment for the victim in many cases.
The Florida statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including dog bite claims, is four years. Florida law 95.11 gives the victim of a dog bite four years to formally start their claim, or they may lose the opportunity to recover for the animal attack.
Starting the claim is all it takes to meet this requirement. However, notifying the insurance company is insufficient to preserve your right to a claim.
Yes, Florida has strict liability for dog bites. Therefore, a lack of bite history on the part of the animal is not a defense. However, a few other defenses may apply.
Some defenses that are common in dog bite claims in Florida are:
– Trespassing on the part of the victim
– Comparative negligence
– Provocation of the animal
– Claims that the dog was protecting its owner or caretaker
– Contesting the amount of damages
– Questioning the link between the bite and damages
– If the dog was engaged in law enforcement work, legal hunt, legal sport, or exhibition
The compensation available for dog bites in Miami may include economic and non-economic damages. Medical treatment costs should be a part of the claim as well as lost work and other financial costs that arise.
In addition, dog bites often come with significant pain, suffering, and loss of use of limbs. Therefore, temporary and permanent pain and suffering damages may also be appropriate in compensation requests for dog bites in Miami.
Yes, an owner is liable if a dog bites a person delivering mail or packages. A person who enters the property to make a delivery is lawfully present. Laws that protect victims and impose legal liability on dog owners apply to delivery people just like any lawfully present person in a private place.
Why Choose Elstein Legal to Represent your Case?
Since opening Elstein Legal in 2018, Brian L. Elstein has recovered millions on behalf of his deserving clients. A cum laude graduate of Nova Southeastern University, Brian Elstein honed his skills early as a member of the Nova Trial Association.
Today, he is recognized by The National Trial Lawyers as a Top 40 Under 40 Lawyer in Florida and has been selected to the 2022-2023 Florida Rising Stars list by Super Lawyers Magazine – a distinction given to only 2.5% of attorneys in Florida, and named 2022 Best Litigation Attorney by Expertise.com.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
If you have injuries due to someone else’s negligent behavior, you deserve compensation to help recover from your injuries. At Elstein Legal, we can help you with all aspects of your claim, including going to trial if necessary to ensure you get what you need.
Call us at (305) 299-2835 or contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case. There is no fee unless we win your case.