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Strict liability: When are Florida dog owners responsible for bites?

When an individual’s negligent or intentionally harmful behavior injures another, the law may hold him or her liable for the damage done. For instance, a reckless driver who causes an accident may owe damages to those injured due to his or her irresponsible behavior.

However, in certain cases, a person may be liable for harm done to another regardless of his or her intention or negligence. The legal term for this type of situation is strict liability. Under strict liability, an individual may be lawfully responsible for damages, even if he or she did not cause the harm knowingly or negligently.

What are examples of strict liability cases?

In Florida, the three most common types of strict liability cases include:

  • A person engaging in an abnormally dangerous behavior
  • An individual or company offering defective products
  • An animal owner whose pet causes harm to another

How are Florida dog-bite laws different?

In some states, a dog owner may not be fully liable for a bite if his or her dog:

  • Does not have a history of dangerous, aggressive or violent tendencies
  • Has not bitten in the past
  • Was properly restrained

However, in Florida, the law holds pet owners strictly liable for their dogs’ behaviors. This means that the owner may be responsible for damages regardless of the animal’s history and regardless of whether the owner acted negligently.

Is it necessary to prove an owner’s fault?

For Florida dog-bite victims, the state’s strict liability laws mean that, unless trespassing or another crime was involved, it may not be necessary to prove that owner was at fault to receive compensation for injuries.

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