When to Press Charges after a Dog Bite in Florida
A dog bite can be a very traumatic experience. Whether a bite is mild or severe, it can physically and psychologically affect the injured person, sometimes causing permanent injuries or a lifelong fear of dogs.
Pressing charges is one recourse victims of dog bites have to hold negligent dog owners liable and, hopefully, prevent another dog bite attack, but when to press charges after a dog bite in Florida is something dog bite victims may be unsure about. Servicing Lakeland, FL, Winter Haven, FL, and surrounding areas, the attorneys of Moody Law can help you if you have suffered a dog bite injury and would like to discuss if pressing charges is right for you.
Liability Under Florida Dog Bite Laws
In Florida, a dog owner is liable for their dog’s actions. This means someone injured by the dog may recover damages for their injuries from the dog’s owner. Pressing charges in such cases can help accident victims recover compensation for their injuries and emotional distress.
In some states a dog needs to show signs of aggression before the owner can be held liable but not in the state of Florida. It does not matter in Florida if a dog has ever shown signs of aggression for the owner to be held liable.
It should also be noted that the dog owner is only liable if the dog bite happens in a public place or if the person who was bitten was lawfully on private property, such as the dog owner’s home. In other words, if someone trespasses on private property and is bitten by a dog, the dog owner may not be liable.
When Might Someone Not Be Liable for a Dog Bite
There are certain exceptions that can remove a dog owner’s liability for a dog bite. When these exceptions are present, pressing charges may not be helpful to recovering damages. These exceptions include:
- The dog bit someone who was trespassing, meaning they did not have permission to be on private property
- A “Bad Dog” sign was posted
Florida also allows for liability to be shared under “comparative negligence.” This means that if someone did something that provoked the dog to bite, they are partially responsible for their own injuries. The dog owner is still also liable but the amount they will need to pay the injured party would be reduced.
Charges Must Be Filed within the Statute of Limitations
When considering pressing charges, it’s important that a lawsuit is filed in a timely manner to meet the statute of limitations.
In Florida, the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is four years from the date of injury. If the lawsuit is not filed within four years, it will likely be dismissed.
Deciding When to Press Charges
Pressing charges in a dog bite accident can be a difficult decision, especially when the dog is owned by a friend or family member. Even so, it may be necessary to press charges when a dog owner won’t take responsibility.
Victims of dog bites may wish to press charges if they:
- Have been bitten in a public place or private property where they were lawfully allowed to be
- Have suffered damages such as hospital bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering
- Are within the statute of limitations, which is four years from the date of the dog bite
Contact Moody Law
If you or a loved one is the victim of a dog bite incident, call our Lakeland office at (863) 284-9090 to schedule a consultation.