An Animal Bit Your Kid in Florida -- Who's Responsible?

An Animal Bit Your Kid in Florida — Who’s Responsible?

An Animal Bit Your Kid in Florida -- Who's Responsible?

We live in an animal-loving society. Most of us interact with pets on a daily basis (ours or others), and they are an important part of many people’s lives.

However, it is vital to remember that all animals are, at their core, wild, and sometimes things go wrong. What happens when an animal bites someone? Who’s responsible?

Florida is a strict liability state, meaning that the owner is held liable in most cases, even if the owner had no prior awareness of the animal’s aggression or likelihood of biting someone.

If your child is bitten by an animal, the results can be both traumatic and physically devastating, so it may be in their best interests to seek damages and hold the responsible party accountable. However, animal bite liability cases are often complex, and you will likely need the help of a professional.

In the meantime, we’ve put together this guide covering who’s accountable for animal bites, and how animal bite cases work in our state.

Florida Animal Owner Liability

The animal’s owner can be held liable for an attack in most circumstances.

As mentioned above, Florida is a strict liability state. Additionally, Florida dog bite laws do not require victims to prove that their injuries were a result of the owner’s negligence.

Under state laws, an animal owner can be held liable for injuries if it can be proven that the animal bit the victim, and that the victim was either in a public space or lawfully on private property at the time of the attack.

In addition to strict liability, you can also file a suit on the grounds of negligence if it can be proven that the owner’s negligence was responsible for the attack. To win a negligence claim, you will have to prove that the animal owner breached a duty of care.

Limitations in Florida Animal Owner Liability

Florida law allows for animal owners to be accountable for injuries caused by the animal in most cases. However, there are certain circumstances under which the owner cannot be held liable.

Limitations to animal owner liability include:

  • The victim was unlawfully on the owner’s property
  • The victim was provoking the animal at the time of the attack
  • The animal was defending its owner or someone else in the immediate vicinity from a perceived threat of danger

Additionally, if the animal owner has proper warning signs and precautions in place to prevent an attack, they may not be held liable for damages. However, the victim can still potentially file a claim under these circumstances.

If the victim had some fault in the attack (for example, by provoking the animal), the damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the victim.

Statute of Limitations in Florida

Florida law sets limits for how long someone injured by an animal attack has to file a lawsuit. Under state law, the case must be filed in the civil court system within four years of the date of the attack. If you miss the deadline, it’s likely that your case will be thrown out.

Florida Animal Attack Lawyer

Having a child suffer a serious animal bite is a tragedy that no one should have to suffer. Unfortunately, sometimes these things happen despite your efforts to prevent them. If you find yourself in this situation, you need to know what to do after an animal attack to ensure the safety and future prosperity of your child — as well as making sure that the owner is held to account.


About the Author:

Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.


What To Do If You’re Bitten by a Dog

What To Do If You’re Bitten by a Dog

What To Do If You’re Bitten by a Dog

An estimated 4.5 million Americans suffer from a dog bite every year, and one out of every five of those bites is serious enough to call for medical attention, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Hopefully you can avoid being one of these statistics, but it’s important to be prepared and know what to do if you or a loved one is bitten by a dog. Check out the tips below, and always call a doctor if the wound seems serious or if you don’t know the vaccination status of the dog.


Clean and sterilize superficial wounds. If you have a small scrape as opposed to a puncture wound, you most likely won’t need to go to a doctor. Run water over the wound, and then use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to sterilize it. Dab on a topical antibiotic and cover the wound with a bandage. Apply the antibiotic up to two times a day until the wound completely heals.


Apply pressure to a puncture wound. Get a clean towel and firmly hold it over the wound to stop the bleeding. If the bleeding does not stop after about five minutes, or if the wound was to your head or neck, call 911.


If you know the owner of the dog, ask to see vaccination records. Although rabies is relatively rare, you need to make sure that the dog that bit you is up to date on its vaccinations. If the owner does not have the vaccination records or if you don’t know who the dog’s owner is, you’ll need to see your doctor.


Contact animal control if you were bitten by a stray dog. Although your first priority should be to get medical attention, you should alert your local animal control department as soon as possible if you were bitten by a stray or unknown dog. Never attempt to catch or hold a dog that you do not know.


Know When to Call Your Doctor


Boca Raton Dog Bite Lawyer

Although not all dog bites require medical attention, you need to recognize the situations when you should see your doctor. Call your doctor if:


  • You don’t know the vaccination status of the dog (or know that the dog wasn’t up to date on its vaccinations)
  • Your last tetanus shot was more than five years ago
  • The bite is to your hand, foot, or head
  • The bite is deep or won’t stop bleeding
  • You have any disease or condition that weakens or suppresses your immune system
  • The area around the bite feels warm or tender, looks red or swollen, or pus is oozing from the bite
  • You develop a fever


When you go to the doctor, he or she will look for signs of infection as well as any nerve, tendon, or bone damage. They will then clean the wound and give you an antibiotic to prevent infection. They may also ask you to schedule an appointment in a few days so that they can check on the wound again. If you don’t know the dog’s vaccination status and the dog was showing symptoms of rabies (such as extreme aggression and lack of coordination), you will need to start a series of rabies shots as soon as possible. If you were bitten by a stray dog, animal control will try to find the dog so that they can test it for rabies.


If you or a family member was bitten by a dog because of the negligence of the owner, talk to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The dog owner may be liable for the bite, and you may be able to receive compensation for medical expenses and other costs associated with the accident.