How Does the State of Florida Deal with Dog Bite Accidents?
For many of us dog owners, our dogs are more than just a pet, they are a part of the family – not unlike your brother, your sister, or a close cousin. And the fact is that just like your brother, siter, or that super close cousin – they will undoubtedly make mistakes. Especially as a dog, you better understand that they operate on instincts and in the event their instincts tell them to do this or that, go right or left you best believe, especially if you’ve got a big, heavy dog – they will follow their instincts. Sadly, despite the fact that our pets, especially dogs feel just like family, its important to remember at times that they are an animal at the end of the day. And despite this fact most dogs are able to show traits many humans simply couldn’t. For instance, many of us have got that friend or now ex-friend, who will definitely peel a few 20’s out of your wallet if you leave it the room accidentally while you take a shower – or the friend who despite being your “bff” since you guys were HS cheerleaders, has no qualms about texting your boyfriend, the second she finds out you guys are “on a break” – the fact is, put a dog in any situation, he’s going to be as loyal as they come. Now this goes for those who have raised their dogs since they were only a few weeks old, or if you just rescued them from a bad situation 18 months ago – your dog will remember, and forever show you how grateful and just how loyal he can be! However, loyalty can backfire and be the reason you and him are both in trouble.
Now let’s say you and your dog are walking down the street, and you just happen to bump shoulders with somebody, and just before you’re even able to get out your reflexive “sorry my bad”, the tough guy starts in with a barrage of swear words. Now your dog loves you, and doesn’t know him, all he knows that he’s screaming at someone I love. Dogs do not take too kindly to that, and will let off a few warning barks as the conversation might escalate – since you’re a man too, and you don’t wanna feel disrespected by this guy, maybe in a testosterone surge f epic proportion you respond back with your own barrage – seeing you in the mood for confrontation will only get your dog that much more ready – thinking oh, if my master is gonna defend us, I’ve got to help him! And you, not having seen your dog ever get this aggressive and aside from a really good steak, his bone or a few too many chew toys, you’ve never seem him bite a thing! That’s when things go from bad to worse, you utter a phrase no man should say to another, unless he’s ready to defend himself physically and that’s when the tough guys makes an even bigger mistake and shoves you once in the chest and goes for a “home run level” swing at your head only to clip the side of your ear and causing you to stumble back a few feet. And that’s when your dog springs into action, defending his absolute best friend in the world, he jumps into the air, mouth open and clamps his jaws down on the man’s arm.
According to Ms. Anissa Morris of Spinner Law Firm, she is long since considered the best Dade City dog bites lawyer – having seen these types of cases from both sides of the courtroom – representing the plaintiff as they file suit, and the defendant and owner involved in the dog bite accident. Now while the vast majority may take the dog’s actions to be admiral and in defense of his owner and best friend, the other side, or the plaintiffs certainly won’t see it that way, and unless their were good witnesses to the event, it would be hard to prove the self-defense angle at all, even if that would make some of a difference. Unfortunately, according to Dade City dog bites lawyer, Florida laws are pretty concrete on the matter, despite the fact that your dog’s behavior may be unexpected or perhaps provoked, as a Floridian you are strictly liable for any damage or injury caused. You may be able to reduce your liability if the person bitten was negligent in causing the biting incident, but most likely you’ll be liable for some or all of the injury. Interestingly enough, in addition to civil liabilities, dog owners can also be subjected to criminal penalties, especially if your dog is considered a dangerous animal. If your dog has previously attacked someone, it may have been declared a dangerous dog and criminal penalties are more likely to apply. However, even if your dog hasn’t been previously declared dangerous, you may still be criminally liable if the attack is considered severe. Most of the time these criminal charges will be misdemeanors, but felony charges may apply in cases of serious injury or death.
Liability for Dog Bites: The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.
Lawfully Upon Private Property: A person is lawfully upon private property of such owner within the meaning of this act when the person is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him or her by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when the person is on such property upon invitation, expressed or implied, of the owner.
Deemed a Dangerous Dog: A dog in Florida is deemed “dangerous” when any of the following apply:
· It has previously determined to be dangerous; or
· It has aggressively bitten, attacked, endangered, or inflicted severe injury; or
· It has, when unprovoked, chased or menaced a person on any public areas (streets, sidewalks, parks, etc.)
Exceptions to Liability: You may not be liable for dog bites in Florida if any of the following apply:
· You display a “Bad Dog” sign (this doesn’t relieve you of liability for victims under age 6)
· The dog is owned, or in the service of a law enforcement agency
· The dog is used as a service dog.
· The dog is a hunting dog
· The dog was engaged in legal dog training or exhibitions
Possible Penalties and Sentencing
Civil Liabilities: Owner liable for all damages sufferedand/orCriminal penalties may apply
Criminal Penalties: Previously determined dangerous dog bites or attacks:
· First Degree Misdemeanor: Up to 1-year imprisonment
· Confiscation and putting the dog to sleep, the law often (callously) calls this destruction of the dog.
· Dog owner pays all boarding costs and fees
Criminal Penalties: Previously determined dangerous dog causes severe injury or death
· Third Degree Felony: Up to 5 years imprisonment
· Criminal Penalties – Dog not previously determined dangerous causes severe injury or death
· Confiscation and putting the dog to sleep
Now having a dog for years, and due to one mistake, having to put him to sleep or for him to have to live out the remainder of his life in a kennel is quite unfair, especially if there are reasons for his actions. As the top Dade City dog bites attorney, Ms. Morris while mostly representing victims, has worked in the defense of dog owners as well, having had great success using certain defenses including – the individuals who was bitten was negligent in his actions, the person bitten was trespassing on private property (often with a sign that says GUARD DOG), the person bitten was engaged in criminal activity (often in attempt to burglarize the home, or a neighbor’s home) or the dog was provoked.(physically and/or mentally). For more information on dog bite laws be sure to contact Spinner Law Firm today.