411: Florida Dog Bite Laws
The saying goes, “dog is man’s best friend.” There are a lot of things people would do for their best friends. For example, people sometimes choose to take the fall for their friend’s wrongdoings. Well, under Florida law, dog’s best friend doesn’t simply have the choice of doing so or not—they must take responsibility, and can even go to jail, for their dog’s wrongdoing.
Case in point: in August of this past year, a man in the Florida Panhandle was convicted of manslaughter; he faces up to 15 years in jail. What was the crime that the man committed? Actually, his crime was his dogs’ wrongdoing – his dogs savagely attacked a young boy as the boy was riding his bike. In court, a jury of his peers found the man guilty of manslaughter for neglecting to contain his dogs.
How common are fatal dog attacks? They aren’t as infrequent as you might thing: in 2012, the last year for which we have verifiable data, 38 individuals died after being attacked by dogs; half of them were young children. Clearly, far more than 38 dog attacks occurred in 2012, but 38 resulted in fatalities. Even if somebody survives a vicious dog attack, they still may be forced to live in excruciating pain, suffering from common injuries such as disfigurement, loss of limbs, nerve damage, infections, lacerations and scars, rabies, etc. Dog attack injures often require long stays in hospitals, plastic surgery procedures, psychiatric and psychological treatment, physical therapy, etc. All of this costs a great deal of time and money. Why should you be forced to pay for something that wasn’t your fault to begin with?
Obviously, you can’t sue the dog that attacked you in order to obtain compensation for your injuries. However, according to Florida dog bite law, you can hold the dog’s owner(s) responsible for covering the damages. In the Sunshine State, dog owners are responsible for the damages caused by their dogs regardless of whether or not the dog had a history of violence. Dog owners can be held liable even if they had no idea that their dog was dangerous.
Just because unfortunate things take place over the course of our lives doesn’t mean that we need to simply suffer; when we have been injured due to the negligence of another (for example, an owner negligently failing to restrain their dog), we are entitled to take legal action against those responsible.