Our firm has been fortunate enough to represent many Floridians who have been badly injured as a result of an attack or vicious bite by a dog (and even a cat, but that is another story for another blog post).
When we visit with people who have been attacked, and begin to discuss the details, many of them are under the impression that they cannot have a viable personal injury case against the dog owner unless they can prove that the dog had bitten someone before or had a propensity to bite. This is, in fact, the law in several states and is sometimes referred to as the “One Free Bite” rule.
The "One Free Bite" Rule
However, Florida does not subscribe to the “One Free Bite” rule. Instead, Florida law makes the owner of an animal who attacks or bites a human being strictly liable for any damages that the animal causes.
As a practical matter, there are a few defense available to a dog owner once the dog attacks or bites someone. For example, a dog owner can escape liability if the dog owner can prove that the victim somehow provoked the dog, or that the victim trespassed on property where a “Beware of Dog” sign was posted.
Insurance Coverage Is Often The Biggest Obstacle
Even though Florida has such a strict liability dog bite law, this doesn’t necessarily mean that dog bite cases are easy to convert into money for our clients. In fact, we ultimately turn down many legally viable dog bite cases after we determine that the dog owner does not have liability insurance or any liquid assets with which to compensate our clients. That said, It is always a good idea to allow experience investigators to determine whether there is insurance or assets to pay a potential judgment.
If you or a loved one has been bitten or attacked by a dog (or any other animal), call Winter Park personal injury lawyers Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at 407-254-4901. Consultations are always free.