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Man’s best friend can be Florida property owner’s liability

In general, Floridians have a longstanding love affair with their dogs. According to the American Pet Products Association, people in the United States have as many as 80 million dogs. Ocala dog owners may consider their dog as a full-fledged member of the family, and for some owners, their dog truly is their best friend. Sometimes, however, dogs do not behave as they are supposed to. When this happens, it can create danger for Ocala dog owners or anyone else near the dog.

Animals occasionally behave unpredictably. Even dogs that are ordinarily docile and friendly can lash out at people under certain circumstances, like if they are scared or hurt. Under Florida law, the dog owner has legal consequences when their dog bites someone else.

When a homeowner has guests on their property, they are liable for damages if their dog bites one of their guests. This is true regardless of whether the owner knew that the dog was vicious. In addition, if someone other than an invited guest is legally on their property, like a mailman for example, Ocala dog owners are also liable for damages if their dog bites that person.

Although a dog bite is somewhat different from injuries that a person might suffer from hazardous conditions on a property, the legal principles of premises liability typically apply to dog bite cases. For example, if the property owner posts a sign warning about the dangerous condition — in this case a “bad dog” on the property — Ocala dog owners can avoid liability if the dog bites someone.

Under Florida’s dog bite laws, a person who is bitten by someone else’s dog can get damages from the dog owner. But, the victim’s damages may be reduced if the victim provoked the dog or was in some other way partially responsible for causing the dog to bite.

Like any other area of the law involving accidents, dog bite victims should promptly research their legal options, so that they can move forward with any possible claims. A local Florida lawyer may be able to help.

Source: Leg.State.FL.us, “Title XLV – Chapter 767: Dog owner’s liability for damages to persons bitten,” accessed on April 15, 2015

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