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Rundown of basic liability law on dog attacks in Florida

On behalf of Terence Gross of Gross & Schuster, P.A. posted in Dog Bites on Friday, March 1, 2013.

In our last post, we noted that the Escambia County Commission is considering a proposal to create dog parks on Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key. The proposal would create two Gulf-side dog beaches on Pensacola Beach and five on county-owned portions of Perdido Key. Dog attacks do happen, we noted, and it is good for Florida residents to understand how liability generally works when they do happen.

Florida statute cover mostly dangerous dog and dog bite situations. They state that the owner of a dog that bites any person while that 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 that person suffers as a result of the bite. This liability applies regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of that viciousness.

A person who is attacked by a dog, though, may be party liable in some cases. Any negligence on the part of the dog bite victim reduces the liability of the owner of the dog by the percentage that the dog bite victim’s negligence contributed to the incident.

If a dog that has previously been declared dangerous attacks or bites a person or a domestic animal without provocation, the owners is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor. The dog, in such cases, will have to be impounded for a period of ten days. During that time the owner may request a hearing.

Dog bites can be very serious incidents. Those who endure a serious attack can be left permanently disfigured. In such instances, it is critical to bring offending dog owners to justice so that victims are properly compensated.

Source:, “Nate Monroe: The dogs are back on track,” February 20, 2012

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