Dog Bites/Animal Attack Injuries
Every year in America over 4 million people throughout the country are attacked by a dog. Dog attacks can happen when you least expect them can cause severe and debilitating injuries. There are specific laws in Florida and Georgia making dog owners responsible for injury, harm or loss caused by the dog attacks.
Florida Statute § 767.04 states “[t]he 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.”
This means that even if the dog has never displayed any type of aggression in the past, the owner of the dog is still responsible for injuries if the dog attacks a person.
However, there are a few exceptions spelled out in Florida Statute § 767.04. The statute also states, “any negligence on the part of the person bitten that is a proximate cause of the biting incident reduces the liability of the owner of the dog by the percentage that the bitten person’s negligence contributed to the biting incident.” So, if the person who is bitten does anything that can be characterized as provoking the dog, such as taunting or rough-housing, those actions can be taken into account when determining the percentage of fault that lies with the dog owner AND the victim.
Further, the statute also states that a dog owner will not be liable for injuries to others occurring on the owner’s own property if the owner has a sign prominently placed on his or her property reading “Bad Dog.” However, this exception does not apply to children under the age of six years.
Some Florida case law allows for compensation to individuals injured while trying to flee from a dog chasing or attempting to attack them.
Georgia’s dog bite laws are different than those found in Florida. Georgia law requires that a dog’s owner must know that a dog might be vicious or dangerous in order to be held liable for a dog bite.
Georgia’s dog bite law can be found at O.C.G.A. 51-2-7 and states, “[a] person who owns or keeps a vicious or dangerous animal of any kind and who, by careless management or by allowing the animal to go at liberty, causes injury to another person who does not provoke the injury by his own act may be liable in damages to the person so injured.”
This type of dog bite law is sometimes known as a “one-bite” law, but the dog doesn’t necessarily have to have a history of biting for the owner to be on notice of that the dog is vicious or dangerous. The statute goes on to state,”[i]n proving vicious propensity, it shall be sufficient to show that the animal was required to be at heel or on a leash by an ordinance of a city, county, or consolidated government, and the said animal was at the time of the occurrence not at heel or on a leash.”
Also, keep in mind that even if a dog owner is negligent in allowing their dog to attack, their negligence can be reduced if the victim provokes or incites the attack.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a dog or animal attack you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Call Barrett Nonni & Homola at 850-601-1111 for a free consultation regarding your dog bite claim today.