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Criminal Liability In Dog Bite Cases Is Rare


Owners of aggressive dogs rarely face criminal charges related to dog bites and even deaths. In one case, a mail carrier was killed when they were attacked by multiple dogs. The owner of the dogs is only facing misdemeanor charges. Injured victims generally need a video of what happened, two affidavits from eyewitnesses, or an officer has to witness the attack for a citation to be issued.

The penalties for harboring dangerous dogs max out at a third-degree felony and the dogs must have previous incidents of aggressive behavior before those felony or even misdemeanor charges are triggered. Dog bite cases are almost never prosecuted, and injured victims have to file personal injury lawsuits in order to get compensation for injuries they suffer.

When is an owner liable for a dog bite injury? 

Florida is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites. In other states, an owner may only be liable if they have foreknowledge that the dog is aggressive. This is known as the one-bite rule. The victim would only need to establish that they had a right to be where they were. In other words, the owner of a dog wouldn’t be liable if the victim was trespassing. So, if a dog gets out of a fenced-in area and attacks another person or pet, the owner would be liable for the damages regardless of whether or not the dog bit someone prior.

The “bad dog” exception 

If a property owner has a “Bad Dog” or “Beware of Dog” sign on their property, Florida rules make it possible for them to defend themselves against a dog bite lawsuit by stating that the injured victim had fair warning that the dog was aggressive. The victim must be on the owner’s property for the bad dog exception to be valid. Further, it only applies to those above the age of 6 years old since those under 6 years of age cannot likely read the sign.

Damages in a dog bite lawsuit 

A victim who is attacked by a vicious dog can sue for damages related to medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Injuries from dog bite attacks run the gamut from minor lacerations to death. If the dog attacks another dog, then the owner of the aggressive dog is liable for the value of the animal. Traumatic brain injury sometimes results from aggressive dogs as well. A dog can jump up onto a person and knock them over, causing their head to strike the cement.

Under Florida rules, it is an owner’s responsibility to control their pets. When they fail, you will need a personal injury attorney to file a lawsuit against the negligent owner. Since Florida is a strict liability state, you will not need to prove that the dog is aggressive, but you should not rely on Florida’s criminal statutes to hold the owner accountable. Instead, you should call the Port St. Lucie personal injury lawyers at the Eighmie Law Firm. We can help you recover damages related to your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages. Call today to learn more.

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