In the state of Florida, state statute F.S. 767.04 is the controlling law on personal injury cases involving a dog or other animal bite. Pursuant to this statute, the owner of a dog is liable for injuries caused by that animal if the bite occurs in a public place or to a person who is lawfully in a private place. This means someone who is not trespassing, so that the owner of a dog would not generally be held liable to a burglar who is bitten by the animal while in someone’s home illegally.
Florida dog bite law differs from other states in that it does not matter if the dog has a history of being vicious or if the owner of the dog has knowledge of any prior incidents of viciousness. The reason this is important, and included in the statute, is because at common law, it was a defense if the owner did not have reason to believe to the dog was likely to bite another person. Continue reading