Since the 1890s, Florida law has taken dog bites very seriously. Prior to then, the law placed a huge burden on the plaintiff in dog bite cases. The plaintiff had to show that the dog owner knew that the dog was vicious or that the dog had a history of viciousness. When Ch. 767 was created in the 1890s, that changed.
Florida law now places a strict liability standard on dog bite cases. That means that dog owners are responsible for their dogs and that a person who is bitten by a dog doesn’t have to prove that the owner knew that the dog was vicious.
Even though that was a step in the right direction, it wasn’t perfect. The law allowed dog owners to avoid having to pay for dog bite damages if there was a sign on the premises that clearly noted that a “Bad Dog” was present. Another way that the law was imperfect was because claiming the victim provoked the dog, which led to the attack.
That changed in 1993 when the state law regarding dog bites was amended again. The law then added in amendments that brought comparative negligence into the picture so that negligence on the victim’s part could be considered in these cases. It also allowed that provocation didn’t prevent a person from making a dog bite claim. It also added new language about the strict liability standard.
All of these changes have led to some issues with law interpretation in these cases. If you have a dog bite claim, knowing how to apply the law to your case is important so that you can properly present your case.
Source: The Florida Bar Journal, “Dog Bites Human: Why Florida Lawyers Should Care and What They Need to Know,” Phyllis Coleman, accessed Sep. 01, 2016