If a dog attacks you or your child, you may face serious injuries, extensive medical care and even time away of work. The financial fallout of this type of incident can be significant. In Florida, the dog’s owner holds legal responsibility for these injuries.

Learn more about pursuing financial damages after a dog bite in Florida.

Owner liability

Florida maintains a strict liability standard when it comes to dog bites. While some states hold the animal’s owner responsible only when the dog has attacked before, Florida dog owners have financial liability anytime the dog bites someone who is lawfully in a private or public place. The plaintiff in this case has no obligation to show the court that the dog owner acted without reasonable care.

However, these standards do not necessarily apply to injuries other than a bite, such as if you broke your arm after a dog knocked you down. In this case, you must prove that the owner acted without reasonable care. For example, he or she may have failed to leash an excitable pet.

Comparative negligence

If the dog owner can prove that you share some of the blame for your injury, the court may limit your financial damages. With this concept, comparative negligence, the judge will assign a fault percentage and reduce your monetary award by that amount. For example, if your injuries and time off work cost $10,000 but you were 20% responsible for your injury because you tripped over the dog, you would receive $8,000.

A person who was trespassing on private property when a dog bite occurred is not eligible for financial compensation. The court will not consider someone delivering mail or otherwise carrying out legal duties as a trespasser.

For a successful case, you must file your dog bite claim within four years of the incident. The state court will dismiss personal injury lawsuits filed after the statute of limitations.