Suing For Injuries Caused By Dogs
Almost all of us come into contact with dogs at some point in our everyday life. And most dogs are sweet, kind creatures. But they’re still animals, and that means they can still bite. When they do, if you’re the one bitten by the dog, it’s good to know what your rights are.
Florida law allows someone who has been injured by a dog to sue for damages. Notice the word “injury.” That means that you don’t have to be bitten by the dog. Even if a dog somehow injures you or your property without biting you, a victim can still sue for damages or injuries.
An owner of a dog is liable for the injuries the dog causes whether by biting or otherwise. You probably know that a dog doesn’t come with a certificate of title, the way a car or house does. That means that sometimes, there are issues over who actually owns a dog.
Assuming it is clear who owns the dog, as it often is, the owner is strictly liable for the injury caused by the dog. That means that if the dog injures someone, the owner is liable. There is no need to go through the steps of proving negligence.
It doesn’t matter what the owner did wrong, could have done, failed to do, or whether the owner acted reasonably. All that matters is the dog injured someone, and the owner is then liable.
Unlike what many people believe, there is no “one free bite” rule (that is, the owner is liable the very first time the dog bites or injures someone), and furthermore, the owner doesn’t have to have known that the dog had any kind of dangerous inclinations.
One defense to liability for dog bites, is putting up a “dangerous dog” sign. If you enter property with this sign, and the dog bites, you may not be able to sue for your injuries.
Dogs can, and do, injure people in ways other than by biting. Even friendly dogs can jump on someone and knock them over, or paw at someone and scratch them with their claws. The law makes the owner liable for any injuries the dog causes–by bite, or in any other way.
Trespassing and Provocation
To sue, a victim does have to have been on property legally, and with permission of the property owners. In other words, trespassers cannot sue. People who have a duty or obligation to go on property, such as emergency responders, or city officials, can sue and are not considered trespassers.
The Court can consider whether or not the victim did something to provoke the dog, or which would have caused the dog to bite. Certainly, this involves a bit of canine psychology. In some cases, animal experts may have to be used to testify as to what is provoking to a dog or not, but often, this is easy to determine.
Contact the Miami personal injury attorneys at Velasquez & Associates P.A. today for help if you have been injured in any kind of accident.