Under Florida law, dog owners can be held liable if their animals attack someone else, as long as the victim was lawfully on the property in question at the time of the incident. These are not, however, the only individuals who can be held legally responsible for a dog bite-related injury. A landlord could, for instance, be required to compensate a dog bite victim if the incident occurred on property for which the landlord was responsible. This does require that specific conditions be in place, so if you were attacked by someone else’s dog, it is important to speak with an experienced Florida dog bite lawyer who can walk you through your legal options.
Florida law imposes liability on dog owners whose animals bite other people. In fact, many dog owners are held strictly liable, which means that injured parties aren’t generally required to prove negligence in order to recover compensation. This is true even when the dog’s owner didn’t have previous knowledge of the animal’s aggressive propensities. It’s important to note, however, that this only applies in cases in which a person was actually bitten. If someone was injured in another way by the dog, such as being knocked down, the owner could still be held liable, but the injured party will need to prove that the owner’s negligence caused the injury. Dog owners are not, however, the only individuals that can be held accountable for their failure to protect others from a dangerous animal.
In 1987, a Florida Appeals Court issued a ruling in which it held that landlords have a legal responsibility to protect co-tenants and their guests from the risks posed by a dangerous dog. However, before a landlord can actually be required to reimburse victims for medical bills and other losses, the injured party will need to be able to prove that:
- The landlord knew that the dog in question was vicious or had aggressive propensities; and
- The landlord failed to put protections in place.
Many landlords attempt to avoid liability in these kinds of cases by claiming that they didn’t know that a dog was dangerous, while others may argue that they weren’t even aware that there was an animal on the property. Alternatively, a landlord could also try to blame the plaintiff by saying that he or she ignored warning signs or provoked the animal. An experienced attorney, however, will be able to counter these claims by conducting a thorough investigation into the incident, including determining whether there were any prior complaints about an animal and conducting an in-depth assessment of the rental contract.
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If you or a loved one were bitten or injured by someone else’s dog on a rental property, you could be entitled to compensation from the dog’s owner and the landlord. To learn more about seeking compensation after a dog bite injury, please call Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum, LLP at 305-371-2692 and speak with a member of our Florida dog bite legal team today.