For many dog owners, their dogs are not just another piece of property; they are more akin to family members. However, dogs can sometimes lash out and bite someone when they feel threatened, irritated, or stressed. When this happens, most personal injury lawyers and cops assume the owner is 100% at fault.
If your dog is accused of biting someone, you may find yourself facing charges and possibly paying large amounts in medical fees. You need to prove your dog had a valid reason to attack and bite.
Take charge of the situation by hiring April Goodwin and Andrew Silvers, dog bite defense attorneys at The Goodwin Firm. We’ve handled numerous cases like yours and are ready to guide you through the complicated justice system. Our aim is to prepare a personalized defense strategy, represent your interests, and achieve the optimal outcome.
Understanding the Law on Dog Bites in Florida
Florida maintains strict liability laws when it comes to injuries caused by dog bites. When a dog bites someone, the dog owner is legally responsible for medical expenses and damages resulting from the bite, as stipulated by Florida Legislature Section 767.04.
The victim of dog bite injuries doesn’t have to establish negligence on the part of the dog owner; it’s enough to just prove ownership of the dog. However, the strict liability law only applies if the victim was on public property or lawfully on the dog owner’s private property.
Unlike in other states, Florida doesn’t have a “one free bite” rule, so a dog owner is liable for even the first bite their dog inflicts on another person, despite the lack of a biting history, and despite a previous display of vicious tendencies.
Building a Defense Strategy
The responsibility for the dog’s actions won’t always be on the owner, even after someone sustains a dog bite injury. In some instances, injuries caused by dog bites occur with justifiable cause.
There are several defenses available to the strict liability statute, and if one exists for you, our dog bite defense attorneys will pursue it. We don’t just manufacture defenses, we thoroughly investigate the case and rely on facts and the law to prove your case.
The most common defenses to dog bite claims in Florida are:
If someone was trespassing on another person’s property at the time of the bite, they cannot turn around and sue for compensation. It could be argued that the victim was not allowed or invited into the area, eliminating the dog owner’s liability.
Our dog bite defense attorney can also argue provocation as a defense if the plaintiff in some way provoked the dog before the bite occurred. This could include intentional things like teasing, tormenting, pulling on the dog’s tail, or abusing the dog.
The burden of proof lies on you, the dog owner, which means that you must prove that the actions of the plaintiff actually led to the dog reacting in an aggressive manner.
If the dog bit because it was defending the owner or someone nearby from a perceived threat or attack, this is also a possible defense.
- “Dangerous Dog” Sign
A dog may be declared dangerous under Florida Statute Section 767.11 if it has:
- Aggressively attacked, bitten, or injured a person
- Seriously injured or killed another domestic animal
- Aggressively approached a person without provocation
A dog owner is not liable for a dog bite that occurred on their property if they have a prominently displayed sign saying “Beware of Dog” or “Bad Dog.” The sign must be readable by the public.
However, this defense may not apply to your case if the dog bite victim is six years of age or younger, no matter what they may or may not have done to provoke the dog.
Why is it necessary to hire a dog bite defense attorney?
When faced with a dog bite claim or lawsuit, it makes sense to discuss your situation with an experienced dog bite defense attorney. Here are some reasons why it’s beneficial to hire a lawyer:
- Knowledge of Relevant Laws
A dedicated Florida dog bite defense lawyer can help you understand the legal context of your case and how to apply relevant laws to your advantage. An attorney will guide you through the entire process and help you understand all the procedures and paperwork.
No amount of research will equip you with the knowledge needed to successfully handle dog bite cases in Florida.
- Strong Defense Strategy
Our dog bite defense attorney can pinpoint the weakness in the plaintiff’s case and put the best case together for you to ensure the best possible outcome.
- Representation in Court
If the plaintiff takes the case to court, an experienced dog bite attorney can represent you aggressively and protect your interests as best they can. This is especially important if the plaintiff has legal representation.
How to Choose the Right Lawyer for Your Dog Bite Case
When choosing a dog bite defense attorney, it’s important to consider the following aspects of their law firm:
- The attorney’s professionalism
- Experience with Florida dog bite cases
- Their style, personality, and approach
- Their availability and how they handle communication
- The law firm’s years of operation and resources
- Their fee structure
Contact The Goodwin Firm for Dog Bite Defense Assistance Today
Do not struggle through a challenging and complicated dog bite claim on your own. The Florida dog bite defense attorneys at The Goodwin Firm can help. We have the knowledge, dedication, and experience to build a strong case in your defense and fight for your pet’s rights. Contact us today to schedule a legal consultation.