Melbourne Dog Bite Lawyers
Fighting for victims of vicious canine attacks in Titusville
Similar to most communities, Melbourne’s dog owners must follow certain rules to help keep the public safe when enjoying the outdoors with their pets. A dog bite injury is often a traumatic event for the victim, and the pet owner often faces steep financial penalty and may in some cases be required to have their dog put down.
According to Florida law, a dog owner is liable if his or her dog bites a person while in a public or lawfully private place. Because Florida is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites, a pet owner may still be liable if he or she has no prior knowledge of his or her dog having a history or tendency to bite humans. Dog owners may also be liable in situations in which they did not fail to exercise reasonable care. While the statute specifically mentions dog bites, a pet owner may be liable if his or her dog causes injury in a different way while the owner is behaving negligently. For example, a person may successfully sue for compensation if he or she is injured as a result of being knocked down by a dog if the owner was negligent at the time of the incident.
Although Florida has a very strict dog bite statute, there are two defenses pet owners may sometimes use to escape full liability. If the injured party was trespassing at the time of the bite, the dog’s owner may argue he or she is not required to compensate the victim due to unlawful presence on the property. Dog owners may also argue the plaintiff’s compensation should be reduced due to comparative negligence. A plaintiff is comparatively negligent if he or she is proven to have contributed to the incident by accidentally stepping on the dog’s tail while not walking carefully or otherwise prompting the dog to bite. In these cases, the court will assign a percentage of negligence to the plaintiff and reduce his or her compensation amount by the specified percentage.
Statutes of limitations
In Florida, dog bite victims who wish to seek compensation in civil court must file suit within four years of the incident. Sometimes the parties may attempt to settle matters outside of court, or the dog owner may promise compensation, but eventually refuse to pay. Therefore, a dog bite victim may believe it is better to delay the decision to file a claim and later change his or her mind. Speaking to a Melbourne dog bite attorney is free and confidential. During the consultation, the lawyer will help the injured party understand his or her rights in addition to counseling the victim in deciding whether filing a claim in court is the best choice. Titusville and Melbourne residents who would like to weigh the pros and cons of filing a dog bite claim should speak with a local, experienced attorney right away. Actions that are filed after the statutes of limitations are typically thrown out of court because the plaintiff failed to file the claim within the mandated time frame.