In every Florida community, there are dogs. A dog is commonly referred to as man’s best friend. Dogs are wonderful companions and considered part of the family. Unfortunately for some children, a dog can be viewed as a mean and vicious animal that is dangerous. A child can be significantly traumatized as a result of a dog bite or dog attack. Some dogs are vicious by nature. Some unfortunately are taught to be vicious. Most domestic dogs are kind animals but, as animals, a bite or attack can still happen at any time. A dog could get scared or agitated by a certain sound or smell. Some dogs, for reasons unknown, just do not like children. As smart as dogs can be, they are still animals that, at times, take action to protect themselves or protect their owners if they feel threatened in a certain manner. For some dog owners, the fact that the dog bit or attacked a person comes as a total surprise. For others, it is no surprise at all since the dog previously attacked or bit a person.
Florida, like some other states, has a strict liability law in place for dog bites or dog attacks. Prior notice of aggressive behavior is not a requisite to pursue a claim or case. A dog bite victim need only show that a dog attack took place. There are some limited exceptions to this general law or rule. For instance, if the child is a trespasser who then is bitten, there may be a defense to an action or a case brought on behalf of the dog bite victim.
Section 767.04, Florida Statutes provides the following: