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Cross-breed dog playing by chewing owners shoesMan’s best friend is a symbol of loyalty.  Sometimes that loyalty turns fierce.  They have canine teeth that can make quick work of the unsuspecting.  For the most part, dogs are faithful and friendly.  But sometimes people get bitten and receive sustained injuries, leaving them disabled for life.  If you have been bitten by a dog in the Melbourne, FL area, an attorney can help you seek compensation or your injuries.

Owners are Liable

In the Sunshine state, dog owners are held liable when their dogs bite or attack others.  There is a leash law, but even if the dog bites when on a leash, the owner will be held liable.  This means that the owner will be held responsible for any compensation for medical bills, physical therapy, lost wages or even a wrongful death claim.  The laws have been updated in recent years, holding the owners even more accountable than before.  Under an old law, there was a “one free bite” legislation that basically gave the dog and owner one freebie.  This is no longer the case.  There is a zero tolerance policy on dog aggression known as the “strict liability” law.

There are two defenses in place for dog owners.  One is the display of a “beware of dog” sign or other type of sign to warn others.  The dog must still be secured behind a fence.  The other defense for a dog owner is if the victim was harassing the dog or being negligent of their own safety.  This also includes if the victim was trespassing.  If they did not have permission to be on the property, they should not file a claim.  However, if the victim was six years old or younger, there are no defenses.

Dangerous Dog Law

Not all dogs who bite are automatically euthanized.  They are quarantined for a ten day period.  They will then fall under the dangerous dog category.  A judge must determine the dog to be as such.  If it is found to be a dangerous dog the owner will have to follow strict requirements.  These requirements include:

  • Keeping the dog confined to private property
  • The dog must be muzzled if taken to the vet
  • A visible sign must be placed on the property
  • Any violation will result in an order to euthanize the dog
  • If the dog bites again, the owner may be held on criminal charges