Injuries from a Dog?

A dog bit me, do I have any rights?

‍The dog owner is strictly liable for any injuries caused by the dog.  This means the owner is responsible for an injury caused when their dog bites you or when their dog is running around and knocks you over.

Florida Statute Section 767.04 states that 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.”

An owner of a dog can display a sign on his or her premises that says, “Bad Dog,” but the dog owner can still be liable under Florida Statute Section 767.04 if a child under the age of six years of age is bitten by a dog.


I was riding my bike, and the dog knocked me over and caused a fracture.  Is the owner responsible?

Yes.  Under Florida law, an owner of a dog is responsible for a bite caused by a dog or any harm caused by the dog, even if it does not come from a bite.  Florida Statute 767.01 provides that an owner “of dogs shall be liable for any damage done by their dogs to a person.”  So, if the dog urinates and causes a slip and fall, runs up and knocks over a walker, runs up and knocks over a bicyclist, or causes a pedestrian to trip with the leash, the owner is responsible.


Who pays for an injury caused by the dog?

It is particularly important to find out who owned the dog. The facts are especially important in determining who is liable or who could be liable.  If the dog owner lives in a house, then homeowners’ insurance can help you, or the family member who was a victim of a dog bite.  Homeowner’s insurance may provide reimbursement for past medical bills, future medical bills, and pain and suffering.

If you are bitten by a dog at a business, then the insurance company of the business owner who owns the dog can be held liable.

Some insurance companies will require dog owners to notify them of dogs they own, and the breed of dog. Some even insurance companies will deny homeowners insurance depending on the type of breed. It is especially important to know what type of dog bit you or a family member.


Should I call animal control?

Yes.  They can determine if the dog has rabies.  Also, they are often helpful in determining who is admitting to ownership of the dog. Animal Control will sometimes keep records of prior complaints about the dog.


Is the landlord responsible for the renter’s dog?

Maybe.  Under Florida law, a landlord is responsible for the renter’s dog if the owner knew the renter had a dog and knew the viciousness of the dog.  So, the landlord is not strictly liable under Florida law.  You must prove they knew the dog was present and vicious.  Ask questions such as had the dog attacked someone before, has animal control been to the residence before, and how much did the landlord know.  If you need to investigate these facts, call Howell & Thornhill, P.A.

What if the dog is not a leash?

Many towns also have “leash laws” that require dogs to be on a leash. When dog owners fail to follow leash laws, people can get hurt.  In Florida, many cities and counties have “leash laws.”   Winter Haven, Florida, for example, has a leash law that states under Section 4-26 (a) “all dogs shall be kept under restraint.  No owner shall fail to exercise proper care and control of his animals to prevent them from becoming a public nuisance.”

The Winter Haven municipal code also provides in Section 4-26(c) that “every vicious animal shall be confined by the owner within a building or secure enclosure and shall be securely muzzled or caged whenever off the premises of its owner.”

If you are injured because a dog owner’s failure to leash their dog, call us to explain your rights.

(863) 293-3166